Turtle Bunbury

Writer and Historian

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(1848 - 1929)



1. THE FORMATIVE YEARS (1848-1866)
4. BILLY'S DEATH & THE EVE OF WAR (1900-1913)
5. WORLD WAR ONE (1914-1918)

7. THE IRISH CIVIL WAR (1922-1923)
8. TWILIGHT & EPILOGUE (1924-1960)

These pages will be consistently updated.
Comments, updates and corrections are much appreciated






January 11: Lord Chelmsford's forces cross the border into Zululand.

January 22: Twelve days after outbreak of Anglo-Zulu War, the Battle of Rorke's Drift on the Natal border with Zululand, in South Africa. The British garrison of 140 men - many of them sick and wounded - fought for 12 hours to repel repeated attacks by up to 3,000 Zulu warriors who were, apparently, high on some form of marijuana-based snuff. The defence was rewarded by Queen Victoria's government with no fewer than 11 Victoria Crosses.

May 17: Death of 79-year-old John McClintock, 1st Lord Rathdonnell. He died at Drumcar, his residence, on a Saturday night.

May 17: Thomas Kane McClintock Bunbury succeeds his uncle John as 2nd Baron Rathdonnell. The size of his Irish estates subsequently increase to 18,923 acres (gross annual value: £15,400). Broken down into counties, this comprises of Carlow (8058), Louth (3000), Tyrone (2886), Fermanagh (2600), Meath (1215), Monaghan (1006), Dublin (600) and Kildare (558). Tom's brother Jack has a further 3098 acres at Moyle (g. an. Val. £2741). Tom's father-in-law Henry Bruen was the largest landowner in Carlow with 16, 477 acres in the county, as well as 6932 acres in Wexford and 218 acres in Kildare bringing his total to 23,627 acres (gr.an.val. £17, 481).

June: Vere St Leger Goold loses to Rev Hartley in Men's Final at Wimbledon. In 1907, he is arrested and convicted of murder. See Michael Sheridan's 2011 book 'Murder in Monte Carlo' for more.

June 25: Freeman's Journal reports in its 'FASHION AND VARIETIES' column that 'Lady Rathdonnell has left Kingstown for England.' It's not clear whether this was Kate Rathdonnell, or the elderly Anne Rathdonnell.

June 28: The Freemans Journal notes that Lord Rathdonnell "will exhibit his famous Irish bull Anchor, already a prize taker in good company" at the upcoming Great International Exhibition at Kilburn.

June 30: Death in London of Tom's uncle Robert Le Poer M'Clintock, MA. (1836), B.A. (1832), Rector of Castlebellingham. He was the son of John M'Clintock, of Drumcar, by Lady Elizabeth Le Poer Trench, third daughter of William, Earl of Clancarty. He was ordained in 1834 and became Rector of Kilsaran in 1835. He married, on 29 July 1856, to Maria Susan, only daughter of Alexander Charles Heyland (late Indian Judge). They had no children. He was buried in the family mausoleum at Drumcar, where he is commemorated by a memorial window in the Parish Church, as also by one in the Parish Church, Castlebellingham. His widow was married secondly on 1st Feb. 1883 to Francis, eldest son of Owen B. Cole, Esq., D.L., and Lady Fanny Cole. ['The Rev. Robert Le Poer McClintock, of Spencer Hill, Castle Bellingham, in the county of Louth, on the 30th ult., London He was the son of John McClintock, Esq., of Drumcar, in the county of Louth, by his second wife, Lady Elizabeth, daughter of William Power, Earl of Clancarty, and was thus half-brother of John, Lord Rathdonnell, who died on May 17 last.' - Illustrated London News - Saturday 12 July 1879]

1879 was the worst harvest since the Great Famine and the coldest and wettest year since records began in 1766. It rained for 125 days in the six months between March and September, or two out of three days. Small farmers were dealt the hardest blow by the dire weather and the severe economic crisis that followed it. The potato crop was ravaged by blight and whatever turf they were able to gather from the bogs had no chance to dry. By the close of 1879, the Irish peasantry had been stirred into action, aghast at reports of widespread evictions of small tenant farmers who owed perhaps two or three years of rent. The Irish National Land League was formed in October 1879 “to put an end to Rack-renting, Eviction and Landlord Oppression’.

The first edition of Boy’s Own Paper was published. The editor was S.O. Beeton, the husband of Mrs. Beeton, the cookery book writer. Mrs Beeton died prematurely of syphilis contracted from her husband.

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Above: Tom's uncle, John McClintock, whom he succeeded as
2nd Baron Rathdonnell in May 1879.

July 1: (Tuesday) Lord Rathdonnell watched Lisnavagh's prize shorthorn bull Anchor compete at the Royal Agricultural Society's Show at Kilburn. The show took place on a sun-swept afternoon enabling the men and women to walk directly on the hard clay ground rather than on the sleepers and planks of wood laid out in paths. A week earlier the place had been so muddy that "a witness of wide experience testified that the slough of despond at Kilburn exceeded the muddy battlefields of Balaklava".

The showground was a riot of colour and noise with visitors pouring in to see the latest mechanical inventions - traction engines. Cattle and horses were herded between it all. Jersey dairy cows. The Danish Butter show. The British Beekeepers Association. The Prince and Princess of Wales were in attendance. So too was the brilliantly named Russian ambassador, his Excellency Count Schouvaloff, who had made such an impact at the Congress of Berlin the previous year. The first RAS show took place at Battersea in 1862 drawing 1,986 livestock entries from 535 exhibitors. At Kilburn in 1879 there were 2,874 entries from 809 exhibitors, including 46 animals of foreign breed. These included 179 shorthorns, 63 Herefords, 53 Devons, 95 Sussex as well as numerous Longhorns, Kerry, Welsh, Scotch, Suffolk, Norfolk and numerous dairy cattle. But the greatest turn out of all was the 302 cattle sent over from Jersey and Guernsey. Also present were 777 sheep, 716 horses, 18 mules, 9 asses and unknown quantities of pig, goat and poultry. Judging the 313 classes were 125 gentlemen, including a number of foreign judges. Everything was there to be judged - butter, bacon, ham, cheese, cider, hops, honey, railway meat-wagons, mechanical inventions, market gardens, sewage farms.

The Shorthorn class was the highlight of the opening day. The judges were G. Drewry of Holker, Lancashire, A. Mitchell of Alloa, Scotland and Richard Chaloner of King's Fort, Co. Meath. It was onto this contest that Anchor walked. The problem was, Chaloner himself had bred Anchor from his own famous herd. And he had sold it to Rathdonnell! As such, Chaloner stepped down as judge and left it to his colleagues. The correspondent for The Times breathlessly takes up the tale. "Seventeen bulls above three years old took no little time in adjudication; the contest ended in Mr W. Linton's lengthy old roan, "Sir Arthur Ingham", the hero of any number of showyards but now gone to pieces at the age of 7 ½ years, receiving his last Royal notice in the shape of a commendation; Mr. John Outhwaite's grand "Royal Windsor", at the venerable age of 10 ½ years taking the 4th prize, the Earl of Ellesmere's "Attractive Lord" being placed third, though beaten by a still finer beast, Mr David Willis's "Rear Admiral" which stands second in the class, while clearly ahead of all is Lord Rathdonnell's "Anchor" from county Carlow, thus scoring an honour for Ireland".

July 3: "Lord Rathdonnell has performed another graceful act towards his tenantry in providing the ---- of his principal tenants with tickets (free of all charge) to visit, in conjunction with Canon Bagot's excursion party, the Great International Exhibition at Kilburn. Such acts as these must endear the lord of the soil to his tenantry, and do more than anything else to establish kindly feelings between landlord and tenant." The Irish Times, Thursday, 3 July 1879.

July 5: Death of Chichester Fortescue's wife, Lady Waldegrave, without issue at her residence, 7 Carlton Gardens, London.

Sir Leopold McClintock begins four year run as Commander-in Chief on the North American and West Indian Stations (until 1882).

July: The complete destruction of the Zulus paves the way for the Boers to strike.

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Above & below: During the 1870s and 1880s, Tom Bunbury became well known as one of the greatest cattle breeders in
the British Isles. Anchor, his prize shorthorn bull, swept the awards across Ireland, Scotland and England in 1879.

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Late July: Anchor wins first prize at the Highland Show.

July 24: The Lord Chancellor reported to the House of Lords that the claim of the new (and by now prize-winning) Baron Rathdonnell "to vote at the elections of representative peers for Ireland had been established to his satisfaction".

August: Anchor sweeps the prize from the Royal Agricultural Society of Ireland at Newry. And so Anchor returned to Lisnavagh, the most prized bullock in an Empire on whose ass the sun never sank.

August: Lord Rathdonnell joins Bruen, Pack-Beresford, W. Johnson of Prumplestown, T. Burgess and others in exhibiting and prize winning at 34th annual Tullow Show amid ‘very gloomy surroundings’. Tom Rathdonnell also starts as Steward of the Horse Show at a time when shows held in courtyard of Leinster House.

August: Michael Davitt founds the Land League of Mayo in Castlebar. New agricultural depression setting in and organised land agitation on the rise.

September 25: Shortly after the disestablishment, Tom's first cousin Francis George Le Poer M'Clintock, B.A., 1875 ; M.A. (Cant, and Dub.), 1879 is elected Rector of Kilsaran by the Board of Nomination.

September 28: Parnell delivers his third ever public speech in support of the Land League from a platform in Tullow to 35,000 people; it’s the first time he has publicly voiced support in Leinster. The speech leads to an open conflict between Henry Bruen and his Oak Park tenants over rent reductions within six weeks.

October: Foundation of the Irish National Land League. Rural disturbances began to increase dramatically in the Irish countryside.

November: Start of probably the longest ever fog in London's history, lasts until March 1880.

Nov 28: Captain Walter Glyn Lawrell, 4th (Queen’s Own) Hussars, killed during the storming of Chief Sekukini's mountain stronghold while attached to the 1st Dragoon Guards and serving with Worsley’s staff. He was shot dead by some of the Bapedi defenders who had taken refuge in a cave during the attack in what was then the north-eastern Transvaal. This was after the Zulu War itself. Born in 1844 and educated at Charterhouse, the 35-year-old is presumed to be a friend of Tom Bunbury. He was a son of the Rev. John Lawrell, of Hampshire and husband to Mary Hamilton, daughter of J. Hamilton, Esq., of Fyne Court, near Bridgwater, Somersetshire, who he married on 1 December 1874. He had previously visited Lisnavagh during the 1860s and photographed the farmhouse. He entered the Service in December 1865, purchasing a cornetcy in the 9th Lancers, in which he rose to become a captain by 1870, before exchanging into the 4th in 1872. His 'Portrait with Obituary' appears in The Illustrated London News on Feb 14th 1880.

December 15-23: Second Anglo-Afghan War: British victory at the Siege of the Sherpur Cantonment. George White wins Victoria Cross; his son Jack White co-founds Irish Citizen Army.

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Lisnavagh House, with its vanished Colonnade.


January: After his hugely successful year with Anchor, Tom subscribed to the Duchess of Marlborough's Relief Fund for the distressed of Ireland. The following year, the Duchess staged a version of Gilbert and Sullivan's bright operetta Pinafore at Dublin Castle to raise money for the fund. A witness reported that "on the whole the undertaking was very creditable to all engaged in it …the sisters, cousins, and aunts were recruited from the prettiest girls".

March 25: Arthur McMurrough Kavanagh appointed Lieutetant for Carlow, with Tom as one of his magistrates.

September: The Land War begins as a protest against the high cost of rent during an agricultural depression. Agrarian 'outrages' rise to three times the normal average in the years 1880-82 (though the vast majority of incidents consisted of acts of intimidation such as sending threatening letters, rather than acts of violence). On average there were seventeen murders per year of landlords and their associates during the land war, as well as acts of violence such as cattle maiming. According to Murphy, however, much of the successes of the agitation came from peaceful actions rather than violence. (James H Murphy)

Sept 13: CLONES UNION FARMING SOCIETY'S SHOW (From our Reporter.) Clones, Tuesday. The annual show in connection with the Clones Union Farming Society was held in the Pig Market, close to the railway station, here to-day. The weather was not by any means favourable for an occasion of the kind. Indeed, it was quite the reverse. From an early hour in the morning rain fell copiously, and continued throughout the day witnout a single moment's intermission. The consequence naturally was that, in the first instance, a great many remained at home who would otherwise have been present: and secondly, those who did venture out at all and put in an appearance retired early when they saw there was no sign the rain clearing off.The attendance, owing to these causes, was but small, and was confined in great measure to the exhibitors, with their friends and servants. The ladies, whose presence tends peculiarly to grace such gatherings, were conspicuous by their absence. It might be found worth while for the promoters of the annual shows of this society to consider whether it would not be advisable to choose in future a day somewhat earlier in the season. The president of the society is Sir Thomas Lennard, Bart., the largest landowner the district, and the vice-presidents as follows —The Earl of Dartry, KP; Lord Rathdonnell; the Earl of Lanesborough; Sir Victor A Brooke. Bart.; Mr. S. E. Shirley. D.L. J.P.: Mr. J. Madden. D.L.. J.P.; Lord Rossmore; Sir John Leslie, Bart.; Sir Wm. Tyrone Power. K.C.R.; Mr. A. A. Murray-Ker, D.L. J.P.; Mr. Frederick Wrench, J.P.; and Mr. John Brady. D.L., JP. (Belfast Morning News - Wednesday 15 September 1880)


See also remarks on the Rathdonnell / McClintock estate in Counties Fermanagh, Monaghan and Tyrone here.

Sept 19: Parnell introduces the word 'boycotting' as the term for non-violent protest in a landmark speech in Ennis. ‘What are you to do with a tenant who bids for a farm from which another has been evicted?’ he asked his audience. ‘Shoot him!’ they replied but Parnell answered: 'I wish to point out a better way, a more Christian way which will give the lost man an opportunity of repenting. When a man takes a farm from which another has been evicted, you must shun him on the roadside, on the streets, in the shop and even in the place of worship by putting him in a “moral Coventry.” You must show him your detestation of the crime he has committed'.

Oct 14: Captain Charles Boycott, who would be responsible for giving the English language the word “boycott” writes to the Times of London about his situation in Ireland.

October 18: Growing confrontation between tenants and agents over unfair rents and evictions leads to celebrated and novel strategy was the ostracism or "boycotting" of Captain Charles Boycott who, as well as his own estate surrounding Lough Mask House in Co Mayo, is agent for Lord Erne’s extensive properties in the province of Connacht. The Times publishes a letter from Captain Boycott in which he explains that after several seasons of atrocious weather, tenants had been unable to pay the rent and that he had issued eviction orders. However, his "process server' was intimidated and driven back, and then, he told readers, "a howling mob had coerced all his workers to leave him; the blacksmith and the laundress refused to work for his family; and shopkeepers in nearby Ballinrobe had would not serve him." In its editorial, The Times concluded: 'The persecution of the writer, Mr Boycott, for some offence against the Land League’s code, is an insult to the government and to public justice.' Parnell's support for boycotting is seen as advocating a constitutional alternative to widespread violence.

Dec 20: Outbreak of First Anglo-Boer War, in a long-term response to British attempt to annex the Transvaal. The war was initially welcomed in Britain who were fearful of German intentions to annex the state. It was a case of naked colonial expansion with one big juicy eye on the diamond fields.

Dec 30: Transvaal Boers under Kruger declare a republic.

Tom Rathdonnell served two years as Chairman of the RDS Committee of Agriculture when the Society first purchased the land at Ballsbridge.

General Election, the Liberals, led by the fierce oratory of retired former Liberal leader WE Gladstone trounce Disraeli's Torys at the Poll and Gladstone again becomes Prime Minister.

In 1880, a comedy play called ‘Jacks and Jills’ by James Albery premieres at the Vaudeville theatre on the Strand. It centres on the story the daughters of a rich merchant John Bunbury. Alas, the play was a terrible flop and the poor author was hissed at and vilified by the audience.


Gladstone, who returned to power in 1880, passes Land Act which guarantees 'the 3 Fs' and advances 75% of the purchase price of tenants, enabling better off tenants to buy land. The first phase of the Land War duly ends with the introduction of what turned out to be the unstable notion of dual ownership of land by landlords and tenants. Although an improvement on the 1870 Act, it was still a disappointment to the tenants and the League. Fixity of tenure was dependant on the payment of rent but tenants who were behind on their rent were not covered under the terms of the Act. The League was not satisfied with the limited delivery on 'the 3 Fs' in the 1881 Land Act and insisted on full peasant ownership. As Herbert Remmell wryly observed in his memoir 'From Cologne to Ballinlough', there were no peasants in Ireland by the end of the 19th century. '[The British] would only tolerate the existence of poor tenants, not peasants with land and property rights". In County Carlow, about 3/4 of the land, comprising 220,000 acres, had been planted.

Jan 8-Feb 27: First Anglo-Boer War. British constantly ambushed and annihilated in three major battles at Laing's Neck (Jan 8), Ingogo (Feb 7) and Majuba Hill (Feb 27). It does not help that British riflemen were red jackets, artillery wear blue, and they are armed with Martini-Henry rifles with bayonet.

January 23: The Lowest recorded temperature in Ireland occurred.

Jan 24: Gladstone introduces theProtection of Persons and Property (Ireland) Act, also called the Coercion Act.

January 27: (Thursday) Tom Bunbury attending the fourth annual meeting of the Dublin Branch of the College of Physicians and Surgeons in the hall of the King and Queen's College of Physicians. Robert McDonnell, MD, was in the chair while Tom's great-uncle Alfred H McClintock, MD, sometime Master of the Rotunda, was one of the main players of the night. Alfred died that same autumn. See: THE BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL, Feb. 5, I881.

January 29: (Saturday) The Kildare Observer reported on a meeting of the Baltinglass Union which focused on a motion by Rev. Dr. Kane, PP, Baltinglass, to offer relief to those who were unable to earn any money due to heavy snowfall. William Burgess, guardian of the Williamstown division, resisted the idea that his area, unlike some closer to Baltinglass, be considered in 'a distressed state' and thus requiring government assistance. 'My division, or Rathvilly, did not want it,' said Mr. Burgess. 'I made particular inquiries at Lisnevagh today and I find that Lord Rathdonnell has 38 men in constant employment, and 27 extra men at 7s 6d. per week, and they have liberty to take as much firewood as they can. Any person from Rathvilly has only to go to Lisnevagh and be employed. Lord Rathdonnell is fully taking care of that district.' Mr. Power added, 'I certainly say I don't know what Rathvilly would do but for Lord Rathdonnell; still there are some families in Knockevagh who could not get to Lisnevagh, it being too far away, and they require relief. We would have had an Extraordinary Sessions long ago, but for the employment at Lisnevagh'. Rathvilly division was added to the list, along with Ticknock, Donard, Dunlavin and Eadestown. .

February 3: Birth of the Hon. Thomas Leopold McClintock Bunbury, later 3rd Baron Rathdonnell, and great-grandfather of Turtle Bunbury.

February 26 (Saturday). The Weekly Freeman's Journal reports on a Land League meeting in Rathvilly. "At general meeting of the above branch — Mr. Michael Nolan in the chair - the following resolutions were proposed and unanimously adopted. There were 350 members present, and the resolutions were carried amid the wildest enthusiasm. Proposed by Mr. Joseph Lawler, seconded by Mr. John Hayden — "Resolved—That, notwithstanding the harsh, unreasonable, and coercive measure of Government to intimidate the people of Ireland because of their lawful agitation for a just solution of the land question, we pledge ourselves to continue the unbroken fidelity and union of our branch to the principles of the Land League." Proposed by John J. Kelly, Esq., seconded by Mr. William Norton — “That we tender our worthy representative, E. D. Gray. Esq., our warmestthanks for his noble, dignified, and heroic conduct in his faithful alliance with Ireland’s other heroic representatives, who have within this session of Parliament nobly and chivalrously defended our interests and opposed the coercion which is about being passed on our people by the influence and subterfuge of landlords with the Government, simply because we seek by lawful agitation to obtain our God-given rights.” Proposed by Mr. Timothy Toole, seconded by Mr. Lawrence Kelly -"Resolved — That we hereby enter our emphatic protest against the action of the so called Liberal Government in depriving the Irish people of their constitutional liberties. The arrest of Mr. Michael Davitt, being a case of unprecedented, arrogant, and arbitrary violation of those sacred and longcherished privileges, deserves the serious and ever- lasting condemnation of every sincere and patriotic Irishman.”

Feb 27: Sir George Colley, great-great-uncle of the present Lady Rathdonnell, dies alongside 405 of his men at Majuba Hill, South Africa.

March 2: Coercion Act receives Royal Assent.

March 6: Gladstone sues for truce with Boers, unwilling to commit more men a disastrous campaign so early in his first (I think?) Premiership, especially after he had been so critical of Disraeli's foreign policy. A strange truce as it is very vague about who now owns Transvaal.

March 13: Assassination of Tsar Alexander II. He had been riding in a bullet-proof sledge when an assassin threw a bomb, killing several people. He got out and thanked God he had not been killed. At which point a second assassin appeared, said his thanks were a little premature and hurled the deadly bomb. His grandson, the future Tsar Nicholas II, saw him die, his legs blown off, his stomach torn out, and carried this in his head for the rest of his life.

March 23: Boers & Britain sign peace accord; end of first Boer war.

March: Spring Show at RDS celebrates 50 years with first shows held at Ballsbridge. Tom still Chairman of RDS Agriculture Committee at this time.

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Above: Katherine Anne Bruen who became 2nd Lady Rathdonnell
five years after her marriage to Tom Bunbury. My father thought
she looked quite timid in this pose, 'and most unlikely to take
on the yacht, or the Pytchley, or the Southern Unionists, and
certainly not the powers of the RDS!' I've always liked the
concept that she and Tom enjoyed ice-skating together.
That said, I think she was a pretty formidable woman. It would
be lovely to know what colour her dress was.
(With thanks to Patricia Bruen)

March 26: Tom Rathdonnell rides out with the Kildares at Hazelhatch.

March 28: Tom Rathdonnell rides out with the Kildares at Rathcoole.

April 5: The 1881 census estimates that there are 866,000 Protestants in Ulster, almost all passionately opposed to Home Rule, whether Liberal or Conservative. The population of Dublin within the Municipal Borough is 249,486, inhabiting 24,261 houses.

April 7: Gladstone introduces his Land Bill into the House of Commons.

April 19: Death of Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beconsfield and former Prime Minister.

April 26: Loss of HMS Doterel with 143 officers and crew in Magellan Strait.

April 29: Mininie Jones (nee Tipping), a granddaughter of Henry McClintock of Dundalk and cousin of Tom Rathdonnell, is drowned alongside her husband William, and 129 others when SS Tararua, a passenger steamer, sank off the New Zealand coast on a voyage between Port Chalmers and Tasmania. It was the worst civilian shipping disaster in New Zealand's history.

April 30: The Rathdonnells staying as guests of de Robecks of Gowran Grange for horse sales at Goffs. Also in the house were the Burtons, Sir Richard Sutton and 77-year-old Sir John Michel, the former Commander-in-Chief of the army in Ireland who famously burned the Old Summer Palace at Peking in 1860 as a reprisal for the torture and murder of British prisoners.

May 1: General Order (amended July 1) creates new infantry regiments. Under the Childers Reforms the 103rd Regiment of Foot (Royal Bombay Fusiliers) amalgamates with the 102nd Regiment of Foot (Royal Madras Fusiliers) to form the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. The 101st (Royal Bengal Fusiliers) Regiment of Foot and 104th (Bengal Fusiliers) Regiment of Foot become the Royal Munster Fusiliers. The 27th (Inniskilling) Regiment of Foot and the 108th (Madras Infantry) Regiment of Foot become the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. There are many other changes to Irish and other regiments at the time of the reforms.

May 5: Kate Rathdonnell formerly presented to Queen Victorian by Viscountess Gough to receive congratulations on her new status as Lady Rathdonnell. The presentation took place in the drawing room at Buckingham Palace on a sunny Thursday afternoon.

May 13: A tenant of the Rathdonnells by name of Sarah McCaron is evicted for non-payment of rent.

May 23: The Prince of Wales held a Levee at St. James's Palace on his mothers behalf. Tom attended and was formerly presented to the future monarch by his colleague from the Freemasons, the Earl of Donoughmore. The entire peerage and every foreign ambassador seems to have been present that day - with the exception of the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador who was presumably tied up signing the new Triple Alliance with Italy and Germany, designed as a counterweight to the growing power of France and Russia.

May 25: Some of Dublin's streets are lit for the first time. The times were changing fast.

June 4: Dublin Weekly Nation reports on Land League meeting in Rathvilly. "Hearing of the arrest of Mr. Thomas Brennan, a special meeting of this branch was called, at which tke following resolution was carried unanimously - the president, Mr. Michael Nolan, Fynock, in the chair — Resolved - "That this branch of the Irish National Land League protests in the strongest manner against the arbitrary arrest of Mr. Thomas Brennan, who has so ably defended the cause of suffering humanity against landlord tyranny and injustice. We therefore offer him our heartfelt sympathy and confidence in his prison cell to-day,” Michael P. Maher, hon. sec."

July 16: Marriage of Tom's first cousin Constance Catherine Harriet McClintock, daughter of Lt. Col. GAJ and Catherine McClintock of Fellows Hall, Co. Armagh, to H. C. Irwin of Mount Irwin, Co. Armagh.

June 18: I assume Tom remained in London for the two weeks after the Prince's levee at St. James's. He was certainly there on the evening of Saturday June 18th 1881 to celebrate the bicentennial of the 2nd Dragoon of the Royal Scots Greys at the Albion on London's Aldersgate Street. The regiment was raised in 1681. He is listed in The Times as the sixth most senior man present after the Duke of Teck, Major von Vietinghoff (military attaché to Germany), General Darby Griffith, Filed Marshall Lord Strathairn and the Earl of Dunmore. The band and pipers of the regiment were in attendance and performed throughout the evening.

June 25 (Friday): Tom and Kate attend a State Ball given by Queen Victoria at Buckingham, dancing quadrilles and polkas in the company of Britain's most eminent princes, statesmen, military heroes, ambassadors and nobles.

July 29 (Saturday): The Flag of Ireland reports on meeting of Land League in Rathvilly. "A meeting of labourers of this district was held at Rathvilly on Sunday for the purpose of enrolling members of the Labour League. Owing to the inclemency of the weather the meeting was not so largely attended as anticipated. On the motion of Mr. Denis Deering, seconded by Mr. Wm. Boulger, the chair was taken by Mr. Laurence Kelly, farmer. The chairman said that the labourers’ agitation was just and sacred; it was one deserving not only of sympathy, but earnest support. If the labourer was moderate in his demand now, if he was not disposed to be too extortionate and kept within the limits of the constitution, this labour movement would soon be brought to a speedy and satisfactory issue. The farmers should throw in their lot with the labourers, and not only swell their ranks, but contribute generously towards the movement. He concluded by saying that he would work zealously with the laboururs to make the branch of the Labour League a success. After several members were enrolled, Mr. Patrick Dempsey, secretary prp. tem., read the rules of the Central Labour League for the meeting. Mr. Denis Deering moved, and Mr. M. P. Maher seconded the adoption of the rules. The rules were, accordingly, agreed to. Resolutions were passed calling on the farmers, labourers, tradesmen, and shopkeepers to join the Labour League. A cordial vote of thanks to the chairman brought the meeting to close. The next meeting will beld on Sunday, the 30th inst., at which the Rev. Michael Brennan, C.C., will attend. "

August: Dublin Horse Show moves to ‘Ball's Bridge', a greenfield site. The first continuous ‘leaping' course was introduced at the Show, while the first viewing stand was erected on the site of the present Grand Stand. It held 800 people.

August 1: Nathaniel Hone's promising career as one of the greatest cricketers Ireland or Britain has ever known is cruelly cut short when he is accidentally poisoned in Limerick.

August 2: Tom's first cousin Charles Edward McClintock, second son of Major Henry and Gertrude McClintock, marries Blanche Louisa Dunlop, daughter of Robert Foster Dunlop of Monasterboice, Co. Louth. Charles served as Lt. Col. of the 6th Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles.

Aug 13: First issue of United Ireland, Parnellite weekly.

August 22: Second Irish Land Act becomes law.

Sept 14: Land League Convention in in Dublin adopts a resolution that the Land Act should be tested by selected cases.

Sept 19: Assassination of US President James A Garfield in New Jersey.

October 6: The Master (Lord Waterford), hunt servants and the field were 'set upon by a mob’ who threw stones and other missiles’ at them in Newtown Field. They also stabbed a number of the hounds with pitchforks. Lord Waterford gave up the Curraghmore hounds there and then; his hounds were sold and his house boarded up

October 13: Parnell is imprisoned in Kilmainham for inciting people to intimidate tenants taking advantage of the Land Act. The Land Wars have been dominating Irish affairs for several months. The Land League is suppressed and outlawed. An auxiliary organization, the Ladies' Land League, steps into its place.

October 14 (Friday): A severe night storm wreaks havoc across Ireland.

October 16: Fierce rioting breaks out in Dublin after the arrest of John Dillon, M.P., and other Land Leaguers.

October 17: 'Six suspects were lodged in Naas Jail on Monday. The following are the names Messrs. Lennon and O’Toole, Tullow; Messrs. Egan, and Lynam, Tullamore; Mr. Delany, Abbeyleix; and Mr. Patk. White, of Clara, King’s County. Mr. W. H. Cobbe, was arrested on Wednesday morning, under the Coercion Act, at his residence Ballycullane, Portarlington, and lodged in Naas Jail. A troop of the 5th Lancers formed the escort from Newbridge, which the authorities still adopt their station instead of Sallins. Mr. Cobbe is an extensive auctioneer and manufacturer of agricultural implements.' Kildare Observer and Eastern Counties Advertiser - Saturday 22 October 1881

October 21: Five days after the Dublin riots, Viscount Masserene convenes a meeting of kindred spirits in Dundalk to ponder the matter. Unable to attend in person, the Rathdonnells dispatch their agent to hear what is said.

November 1: Tom Rathdonnell singled out as one of the Ulster landlords who was 'prepared to accept that tenants, many still burdened by debts and arrears, could not yet resume their full rantal obligations'. As such he offers 'an unsolcited abatement of 50% on the gale of rent due on 1 November'. (The End of Liberal Ulster, Frank Thompson).

Nov 7: 'Death of Roman Catholic Archbishop of Tuam, and Irish nationalist, John MacHale. Born in Tubbernavine, Co Mayo, he laboured and wrote to secure Catholic Emancipation, legislative independence, justice for tenants and the poor, and vigorously assailed the proselytisers and the anti-Catholic anti-national system of public education. He preached regularly in Irish.' (Stair na hÉireann)

December 14: Freeman's Journal reports in 'FASHION AND VARIETIES' that 'Lady Rathdonnell has left Kingstown for England.'

December 28 (Wednesday): Death of Captain D.W.P. Pack-Beresford (1818-1881). (From PPP)


The death [aged 63] of Capt. Denis Pack- Beresford took place last week at his residence Fenagh House,Carlow. We regret having to add his name to the obituary list of this year the death of the above estimable gentleman, which took place, rather suddenly, on Wednesday night last.

He had been suffering from an acute attack of gout which he appeared to have surmounted ; but that dread enemy was only momentarily baffled , for, it returned on the morning of Wednesday last , and put a sudden termination to the life of this widely-known and popular gentleman. He succumbed to an attack of apoplexy shortly before mid-night. He was the second son of the distinguished Peninsular officer, the late Major-General Sir Denis Pack, K.C.B. (who five times received the thanks of Parliament for his military services), his mother was the Lady Elizabeth Louisa la Poer Beresford, daughter of George, First Marquis of Waterford.

Denis was born on the 7th July 1818 and assumed, by Royal License, the additional name of Beresford in March 1854, in compliance with the will of his godfather and relative William Carr, Field Marshal Viscount Beresford, G.C.B. by virtue of which he had succeeded to that nobleman's estates in Carlow.

In 1858 he was appointed Deputy-Lieutenant and Justice of the Peace and served the office of High Sheriff for Carlow county. In 1862 on the retirement of Capt.W.K. McClintock Bunbury he was elected Member of Parliament for Carlow in the Conservative interest, he was re-chosen at the General Election of 1865.

On the 12th February 1863 he married Annette Caroline, only daughter of Robert Clayton Browne, Esq. D.L. of Browne's Hill, and Harriette Augusta Hamilton, by whom he leaves a youthful family of seven sons and two daughters.

Capt. Denis Pack-Beresford was educated at the Royal Academy, Woolwich, he received his commission in 1836 and commenced his career in the Royal Artillery. On the breaking out of the Crimean War he volunteered for active service and was appointed extra aide-de-camp to General Cator and accompanied that officer to the East.

On his return to Carlow he retired from the service to devote himself to the duties of his property as resident landlord. In every relation of life he was highly esteemed and his loss as an improving resident landlord, a liberal employer and generous benefactor of the poor, will be long and severely felt and especially in the locality of Fenagh, which he raised from a condition of wretchedness to comfort and prosperity. Like most country gentlemen, the deceased was an active votary of all field sports, and in the racing world was well known on both sides of the St. George's Channel.

The remains of this lamented gentleman were interred in Lorum churchyard. The funeral which left Fenagh House shortly after noon was one of the largest that has taken place in the county for many years, the immense gathering , composed of men of all classes and creeds. Following a portion of the solemn funeral service held in Fenagh House which was read by the Rev. T.G.J. Phillips, Rector of Fenagh, the mournful cortege which extended fully a mile proceeded to Lorum, which was reached about two-clock. The coffin was brought into the church where the service was read by the Very Rev. the Dean of Leighlin and the Rev. Canon Finlay.

The remains were encased in a suit of three coffins, the outer one of polished oak with gilt mountings, and bearing the simple inscription of the name, age, and date of death. It was laden with wreaths and immortelles, prepared by loving hands and placed there by relatives present and others were sent by the following, who were unable to attend :- Mr and Mrs Clayton-Browne, Mrs William Clayton-Browne, Lady Burton, Mrs Reynell Pack, Mrs Arthur Elliott, Mrs James Anson Farren, Sir William Reynell Anson, Algernon H. Anson, Esq. R,N. (nephews) Miss Ada Newton and Mrs William Vesey.' (From the Bunbury Papers, transcribed by Jean Casey on behalf of Michael Purcell).

December 31: (Saturday) 1881 concludes with a court case. A tenant named Sarah McCaron takes Tom to the Land Commissioners Court. Mrs. McCaron was evicted for non-payment of rent on May 13th which is approximately when Tom was being introduced to Queen Victoria. She subsequently took "forcible possession" of a cabin on the land. She still owed four years of rent, about £76. Tom offered her £20 if she gave up. Judge O'Hagan said this was "a hopeless case" and advised Mrs. McCaron to accept Tom's offer and clear out. The outcome remains unknown.

image title

Above: View towards the Pigeon Park at Lisnavagh.


My father has pinned a date of 1882 onto a Settling Tank near the Southern Cross windmill in the Pigeon Park at Lisnavagh. Visible as an L-shaped corner of capping stones (granite or concrete?), he describes this as 'the first stage of the C19 water supply. From the Reservoir the water flowed through this tank and continued eastwards across the drain where there was a stop valve in a big square brick box, lid stolen for somewhere else; continuing east the drive pipe of 6” porcelain, if I recall, had to be embanked where it passes through the top of the wood to another small surface tank still there in Kinsellagh’s Paddock. It then turned right, downhill to get up momentum, through the big concrete box that contained another stop valve and down into the wood. In there is the Ram House which I could not find with Jemima and Bay three years ago but when I rediscovered it in February 2020 found a huge spruce tree lying over it! The hydraulic ram pumped water through a 3” cast iron pipe to the Brick Tank, aka Bride’s Delight. It was the estate supply.'

January 4: Four days after the McCaron Case, Tom Rathdonnell attends what is to be one of the greatest gatherings of the Irish aristocracy and landed gentry ever known - "the rank and educated intelligence of the country as well as the property" as The Times pompously put it. The meeting took place in the Exhibition Palace on Dublin's Earlsfort Terrace and was presided over by the Duke of Abercorn. More than 3000 showed up to yell out "hear hear" and roar out three cheers and generally protest against the way the sub-commissioners were implementing Gladstone's Land Act in Ireland. Some landlords stated that they had supported the Land Act on the premise that it would not be unjust or arbitrary. But there had been too many cases that went against the interest of the landlords to justify their continuing support. The meeting concluded with Sir George Colthurst urging the attendees to organize and combine in defense of their rights, dramatically stating that by unity they had a chance of winning for otherwise they would lose forever. concluded with everyone singing "God Save the Queen" to the accompaniment of an organ. There is a detailed report of this meeting in The Times and what the likes of Arthur Kavanagh, the Earl of Dartey and the Marquis of Waterford said but maybe one can find a potted version elsewhere.

March 2: Roderick Maclean attempts to assasinate Queen Victoria.

April 26-May 1: Kilmainham Treaty offers end to agrarian violence and Parnell is released from prison in return for the promise of an arrears bill from Gladstone to protect over 100,000 who are behind rent. Parnell promises to discourage violence among Land Leaguers and the government agreed to extend the terms of the 1881 Act.

May 2: Gladstone informs Parliament of Parnell's release and the resignation of the hardline Chief Secretary, William Forster.

May 4: John Spencer, 5th Earl Spencer, returns as Lord Lieutenant, until 9 June 1885 when succeeded by the Earl of Carnarvon.

May 6: Lord Frederick Cavendish, the newly arrived Chief Secretary for Ireland, and his secretary Thomas Henry Burke, are stabbed to death by the "Invincibles" in Phoenix Park. This puts Gladstone into a desperate pickle as Cavendish is a younger brother of Lord Hartington (future Duke of Devonshire), the power behind the Liberal party. The murders appear to make a mockery of Gladstone's negotiations policy. Brackenbury is sent over to rectify the situation but ends up hating the job so much that when he resigns, he is shunned by his peers. Hartington will later break away from Gladstone and form the Liberal Unionists.

May 7: The seriousness of the Phoenix Park murders is reflected by the fact, for the first time since Lord George Bentinck introduced the custom of a Derby-day adjournment of parliament in 1847, the British Parliament metets to rush through an emergency Prevention of Crime Bill for Ireland.

May 20: The Triple Alliance is formed between Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy.

June 12: The Central News states:— "In all probability the annual Convention of the National Land League of Great Britain will be held inDublin in August. It is understood that the reasons for this step are that during that month the Irish Industrial Exhibition will be opened, and the National Monument of O’Connell unveiled. It is also the centenary of the Dungannon Convention.” (Irish Times - Monday 12 June 1882)

June 21: On the night of the summer solstice, the Rathdonnells attends their second State Ball at Buckingham Palace given by the Queen. Mr. Liddell's Orchestra performed for the guests.

July 11: British troops occupy Alexandria and the Suez Canal.

August: The passage of the Arrears of Rent Act removes a major source of grievance and effectively brings the Land War to an end.

August 16: Charles Stewart Parnell becomes a Freeman of the City of Dublin.

August 20: Piotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture debuts in Moscow.

Sept 4: Thomas Edison switches on the world's first large-scale electrical supply network, zapping 110 volts directly to fifty-nine customers in Lower Manhattan. Electricity was no longer a scientific curiosity. It was the must-have tool for modern life. One of the vital ingredients for the creation of electricity was copper. Even as the electricity flickered across New York, Cavan-born Marcus Daly was about to score his great breakthrough at the Anaconda Mine in Montana where his team drilled deep enough to hit a 50 foot wide vein of red copper ore flowing through his mine like a river.

Sept 13: British army take Cairo and establishes a rather discreetly acknowledged Egyptian protectorate which lasts 70 years. This gives them consierably more control over Suez Canal, a vital lifeline to and from British India.

Sept 18: Great Comet of 1882: Her Majesty's Astronomer at the Cape, David Gill, reported watching the comet rise a few minutes before the Sun and described it as "The nucleus was then undoubtedly single, and certainly rather under than over 4″ in diameter; in fact, as I have described it, it resembled very much a star of the 1st magnitude seen by daylight."

October 2: Tom's sister-in-law Myra McClintock Bunbury gives birth to a son for Jack, christened Geoffrey Bunbury. He was to be their only child.

October 8: Parnell summons a conference at Avondale and launched the Irish National League to take the place of the now outlawed Land League. The passage of the 1881 Land Act and his release from Kilmainham had led to the disbanding of the original outlawed Land League. However, it soon emerged that the Land Act was unsatisfactory as it had only addressed the issue of Fair Rents. The new League shifted its emphasis from land reform to Home Rule. Although the idea of national independence meant little to the tenant farmers, both Parnell and Davitt believed that the Land War and the end of landlordism was a step on the way to their ultimate aim - national independence. This is an indication of the relationship between the land question and the national question.

November: Jack Bunbury whips Patrick Fenelon and all hell breaks loose.

November 25 (Saturday): Stopping the Carlow Hounds. On Saturday the meet was at Lisnevagh, the residence of Lord Rathdonnell. After drawing Lisnevagh blank, a move was made to Rathdonnell, where a large crowd had assembled with dogs and it was found impossible to continue the hunting. This is the first attempts that has been made to interfere with the Carlow hounds. (The Irish Times, p. 2).

December: Jack Bunbury enwrapped in the Fenelon affair. Fr. J. E. Delaney, PP, Clonegal, addresses a meeting of between 4000 and 5000 supporters of the Irish National League and calls on “every land leaguer in County Carlow and I suppose there are a couple of thousand of them at least, to give a penny a piece to buy a gold mounted riding whip and present it to the Honourable Bunbury to flagellate all the farmers that are opposed to hunting’.

image title

Above: Tom's eldest daughter Isabella
went on to marry Forrester
and was mother to Dame
Mary Colvin, Director of the
Women's Royal Army Corps.


In 1883, alienated shareholders of the Munster Bank began a whispering campaign against certain directors who were said to be helping themselves to huge unsecured loans. Chairman William Shaw brazenly declared: ‘I never in my life bought £500 worth of speculative security; anything I have ever bought, I bought to keep’. However, it soon emerged that Shaw had received a personal loan of £80,000, more than double that of all the other directors combined. He and the other directors had also received excessively generous dividends. Shaw’s resignation in 1884 coincided with the public acknowledgment that the bank did indeed have substantial long-standing bad debts. The Munster Bank was rescued by Cork brewing magnate JJ Murphy, who reincarnated it as the Munster & Leinster Bank which, in 1966, was subsumed into Allied Irish Bank.

In January, Tom Rathdonnell becomes embroiled in the land controversy when his agent, Mr. Gillespie, is accused of robbing "struggling tenants in Omagh of every last farthing" in a time of great hardship. "It is conduct such as this which has brought landlords in this country into such disrepute and detestation. There is no mill on the property to grind corn nor game or fish to take, not a pounds worth of timber. Still, this arbitrary and grasping spirit cannot bear to even allow the smallest benefit to the tenants who have emptied their pockets of every six pence demanded". I don't know who wrote this or how serious the accusations were but the original may be in one of the Archive boxes at Lisnavagh.

In 1883, Tom gifted a site to the Roman Catholic parish of Rathvilly, comprising of an elevated plateau on the western side of the village. Work began immediately on a new church and four years later, the present-day St Patrick's Church was completed. For details, see The Tablet, 10th April 1886.

Foot and mouth disease reappears for first time since 1877, with 1397 outbreaks in Eastern Ireland and a small number in Ulster and Munster. This was eradicated in 1884 following movement controls and stamping out, which was used in Ireland for the first time.

Feb 1: Tom's aunt Maria Susan McClintock (nee Heyland), the widow of the Rev. Robert Le Poer M'Clintock, is married secondly to Francis, eldest son of Denbigh-based Owen Blayney Cole (1808-1886), Esq., D.L., and Lady Fanny Cole, a daughter of the Earl of Rathdown who grew up at Charleville, County Wicklow. Educated at Oxford, Owen Blayney Cole was a well-known poet in his day but suffered from mental illness. He was the son of the London brewer and 1798 veteran Henry Cole (1770-1815). As well as Francis, he and Lady Fanny had two daughters. In 1836 Owen’s older sister Eliza Ibbetson Cole married John Metge of Athlumney, near Navan, County Meath, while his younger sister Henrietta Isabella Cole was married on 1st June 1837 to the Rev. John William Finlay. The Finlay’s son Henry Thomas Finlay (born in 1847) was my great-great-grandfather.

March 27: Death of John Brown, Queen Victoria's beloved personal servant.

May 14-9 June: Joe Brady, Michael Fagan, Thomas Caffrey, Dan Curley and Tim Kelly - convicted of the Phoneix Park murders - were hanged by William Marwood in Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin.

May 21: Queen Victoria hosts another Drawing Room at Buckingham. This time Kate Rathdonnell presents her cousin Mrs. John Conolly to the Queen.

May 26: Dublin Weekly Nation publishes details of Jack Bunbury's whipping scandal under the heading 'Mr. Patrick Fenlon and the Distress in Donegal.'

June: Adare Manor receives a visit from Earl Spencer who, as Viceroy, was Queen Victoria’s most senior representative in Ireland. Known as the Red Earl on account of his abundant red beard, Earl Spencer was an ancestor of Diana, Princess of Wales. A large detachment of constables, troops and artillery were deployed to ensure the safety of the Viceroy and his wife who, having attended the Limerick Show, arrived into Adare by railway. That evening, the Spencers and the Dunravens were entertained in the Great Hall where Clifford Lloyd, the magistrate in charge of the Viceroy’s bodyguard, belted out a rebel song called “The Wearing of the Green”.

Sept 11: The imperalist Sir Evelyn Baring becomes Consul General of Egypt, ruling the protectorate for the next 24 years with an army of 6000 troops.

Sept 23: The Irish National League hold a second meeting in Tullow, presided over by Patrick Hanlon with Patrick Kelly of Tullow proposing. Hanlon opened the meeting by referring to the decline of landlordism in Ireland and pleaded for the public to support the Irish Parliamentary Party in the upcoming elections. Speakers included O'Dwyer Grey (MP for Carlow), Charles Dawson (Lord Mayor of Dublin and MP for Carlow) and Joseph Biggar (an excellent filibuster). The Catholic clergy (including the Rev. M. Brennan of Rathvilly) took a very active part in the formation and direction of the Carlow branches of the INL. In relation to these meetings it should be recalled that the editorials of contemporary issues of The Nationalist and Leinster Times gave their unconditional support to the ideals of the INL. (From PPP)

November: Thomas Weir opens the Goldsmiths Hall at 3 Wicklow Street, Dublin.

The Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society of England (1883), Vol 19-44, p. 95, took note of Tom's cattle breeding: 'At Lisnevagh, in Co. Carlow, the late Colonel Bunbury long kept a good herd of Shorthorns, from which the district derived much benefit. His son [their error, should read 'great-nephew'], Lord Rathdonnell, the owner of the celebrated " Anchor " (32947), has gone heartily into the breeding of high-class shorthorns and his promising herd at Lisnevagh is presided over by a bull on hire from Warlaby.” Colonel Bunbury was, of course, Tom Rathdonnell’s great-uncle, not his father.

London Metropolitan Police form Special Branch to combat rise in Irish nationalist terrorism.


Lord Rathdonnell charged Patrick Byrne with having, on the 3rd day of December, unlawfully entered on complainant’s property at present held by Michael Nolan, of Ladystown, County Carlow, in pursuit of or looking for game, to wit, hares, being at the same time and place provided with dogs for the purpose.
Mr. E. T. Mulhall appeared for the defendant. Mr. Mulhall said that Lord Rathdonnell should appear personally or by solicitor. The Chairman [Sir Thomas Butler, who had Major Hutchinson, E.L. Alcock and Colonel Keogh as his fellow magistrates] said they heard several cases without the attendance of the complainant or his solicitor.
Major Hutchinson said he was quite prepared to hear the case. Mr. Mulhall could appeal if he wished.
Mr. Alcock asked what advantage could be derived from the attendance of Lord Rathdonnell.
Mr. Mulhall — Does this man know how Nolan holds?
Brian (gamekeeper) —I do.
The case was then proceeded with.
Martin Brian was sworn, and said that on the 3rd December he found the defendant trespassing on Nolan’s holding at Ladystown, the property of Lord Rathdonnell. He asked him to take up the hounds and go away, and he did not.
The witness, in reply to Major Hutchinson, said he had deputation to act as gamekeeper (produced)
Mr. Mulhall — Can you prove that Michael Nolan, who holds the lands, has not a right to shoot on them?
Major Hutchinson — The other man must give evidence of that.
Mr. Mulhall — No, sir; Lord Rathdonnell must prove his case. (To witness) How do you know whether Nolan gave him permission?
Chairman — That can be easily proved. Mr. Mulhall said his client got permission from the tenant, and Lord Rathdonnell should prove that in Nolan’s lease the game was reserved.
Colonel Keogh — Prove Nolan’s authority.
Mr. Mulhall — We are not bound to prove his authority.
Chairman — He proves that your client was on the land.
Mr. Mulhall — Yes, on Nolan's land.
Chairman— On Lord Rathdonnell's land.
Mr. Mulhall (to witness)— Can you swear now that Michael Nolan is not authorised to course there?
Mr. Alcock — The defendant was found on the lands of another man. Show his right to go there.
Mr Mulhall — I will show he went there by permission of Nolan.
Chairman—Show that.
Mr. Mulhall — Nolan gave us permission, but the summons was not served until Christmas Eve, and we had not time to summon him as a witness since.
Witness - Nolan complained to me of the trespass, and said he would complain of me if I did not stop it.
Mr. Mulhall said his intention was to have Nolan summoned.
Mr. Alcock — But you have no authority to make him produce his lease.
Mr. Mulhall — Give justice where justice is due. I ask for an adjournment on reasonable grounds, and surely you won’t refuse me.
Chairman — Nolan himself complained of the trespass.
Mr Mulhall — The summons was served on Christmas Eve.
Chairman — That is five days ago.
Mr. Mulhall pointed out that Christmas Day and St. Stephen’s Day intervened.
Mr. Alcock — How can you do anything in face of the statement that Nolan complained of the trespass?
Mr. Mulhall — If I show by the lease that Nolan has a right of shooting, and that he gave that right to the defendant, you must dismiss the case.
Brian produced the leaf of a pass book upon which a memorandum was written by Nolan authorising him (Brian) to prevent trespass on the lands.
Mr. Mulhall — That proves my case. Here is a notice which shows that Nolan has a right to the game, and then he gives this man leave. I only ask for an adjournment to prove that, and I think it is a very reasonable proposition.
Mr. Alcock— Nolan lives within four miles of the town.
Mr Mulhall - If you give me a summons I will have him in. I do not see what great hardship it can be upon Lord Rathdonnell to adjourn it.
Chairman — It would be a great hardship upon the magistrates to hear these things two or three times over.
Mr Mulhall— In a fishery case I knew you to adjourn five times for the complainant.
Chairman — If there were reasonable grounds we would, and six times too.
Mr. Mulhall — Well, this is a reasonable application.
Chairman - The magistrates all round see no reason in it.
Mr. Hutchinson — If you wish to appeal you can do it.
Mr. Mulhall — I only ask for an adjournment, and how can I appeal from your ruling.
Major Hutchinson — The magistrates have decided upon hearing the case.
Mr Alcock — If you have got a good case, why not appeal.
Major Hutchinson — Put £1 1s. on, and then he can appeal.
Chairman — Then we fine £1 1s.
Defendant — Mr. Nolan is sick, or I would not want to summon him at all.
Mr. Mulhall said in such cases the summonses were handed to him at sessions, and it was therefore impossible for him to direct proofs in time.
The defendant was then fined £1 1s. and 1s costs.
There was no other business of importance.
Leinster Leader - Saturday 5 January 1884

January 17: Gerald FitzGerald, later 5th Duke of Leinster, marries the beautiful Lady Hermione Duncombe.

January: The Carlow and Island hounds had a brilliant run of thirty-seven minutes from Rathdaniel, killing in the open. Baily's Magazine of Sports and Pastimes, Vol. 41 (1884)

Feb 18: A fund-seeking advertisement in The Times states that Tom's aunt, the Dowager Lady Rathdonnell, was on the committee for St Agatha's Convalescent Home in Shoreditch, Hastings. Countess Cowper was patron of the place. Two years later, these Evangelical women managed to secure the devoutly religious Charles Latimer Marson as their curate the following year.

Feb 27: South African Republic (ie: Transvaal) becomes fully independent when the London Convention is signed.

Feb 29 (Leap Year): 'STEALING COW. The grand jury having returned a true bill, Thomas Abbey was indicted for having on 29th February, at Lisnavagh, stolen, and driven away a cow, the property of Joseph Doyle. There was a second count for receiving the cow, knowing it to be stolen. The prisoner pleaded guilty. Mr. Thorp said he understood the accused offered to hand back the money he had received on the sale of the cow. Head-constable Dillon said a sum of nine shillings was found on the prisoner. He sold the cow for £3 2s. 8d.
Mr. Thorp— A cow worth £13 or £14! I cannot understand how it is the man who bought her was not prosecuted.
His Honor— Is there anything known about the prisoner.
The accused handed in a letter from the Rev. O. F. Nolan, P.P., Rathoe, stating that he knew the defendant to a quiet unoffensive young man.
His Honor read over the information of James Farrell who bought the cow, and who was unable to attend through illness. The information set forth that he bought the cow in the fair at Newlownbarry, for 2s. 6d. from the prisoner. He paid for the cow and brought it home. She was afterwards claimed by Mr. Doyle, and he gave it up to the police.
His Honor—Who is the man who bought the cow.
Head-constable Dillon—He was a publican in Tullow, but had lost his licence, and now had only an eating-house.
His Honor—Has he any land?
Head-constable Dillon —No; he sold it.
Mr. Thorp—l not know why he was not brought before the court.
Major Hutchinson—He is the sick man.
Mr. Thorp—l not know why informations were not sworn against him.
His Honor—ls anything known of the prisoner?
Head-constable Dillon - There is no conviction against him. He was for a short time the Dublin police, and left it for some irregularity.
His Honor (to prisoner)—Have you anything to say?
Prisoner —No, sir; only I am very sorry for what I done. I did not know what I was doing.
His Honour sentenced him to six months’ imprisonment, to date from his committal.'
(Leinster Leader - Saturday 12 April 1884).

March 14: Letter from Robert Malcolmson, solicitor, Carlow, to Lord Rathdonnell, England, regarding what appears to be the assignment of the lease of Mount Lucas from James Malone to his mother. (Thaks to Bill Webster).

Undated: Lisnevagh, Lord and Lady Rathdonnell's Irish residence, was the rendezvous for the available dancing men and women of Eastern Ireland last Thursday. If the temperature suggested punkahs rather than prancing, the rooms were large and airy, and there was no packing as in town. Liddell was the motive-power, and Liddell's right hand has not lost its cunning or charm. The military races at the Curragh were a capital distraction for the following day, and the stand and the paddocks never were filled by a more brilliant company, while, as at Punchestown, the garrison proved greatly given to hospitality. The Rifle Brigade had the pick of the ponies and won the chief events, while the 18th Hussars, the 5th Lancers, and the Royals didn't go empty away [p. 120] ... Like Lord Waterford, Lord Rathdonnell has given up hunting in Ireland and now migrates every season to the shires. [p. 364] [Vanity Fair, Volume 32, 1884]

May: Package of dynamite sticks found at base of Nelson’s Column in London, attributed to Irish Fenians.

July 2: Opening of libel trial known as the Dublin Castle homosexual scandal, about which there is an excellenmt Come Here to Me blog.

July: THE AGRICULTURAL SHOW IN KILKENNY (Leinster Leader, Saturday 5 July 1884)
During the week Kilkenny has been a scene of unwonted activity and bustle, the immediate occasion for all the lively business and mild excitement being the show of the Royal Agricultural Society. Weather of almost tropical warmth has throughout favoured the efforts of the promoters, and as with sunshine any and every gathering of the kind may be converted by the general public into a sort of bucolic fete, the state of the barometer is no inaccurate measure of the fullness or vacuity of the coffers that hold the gate money. The enclosed space immediately adjoins the town, and covers some six acres, afine field close by serving as an arena for the jumping events. Frankly speaking, the show can hardly be called a success. In some departments there is a very noticeable advance in the number and the quality of the exhibits, but in others — prominently the classes reserved for tenant-farmers - the falling off is very remarkable. In some cases not a solitary entry was received. This is hardly the place to venture an explanation of this result, but it is fair to assume either that these shows and the Anti-Irish gush expended by Lord Lieutenants and their tail of snobs and shoneens on fat oxen and bloated swine have fallen into disrepute, or that the farmers have their time so folly occupied in the hard struggle to make ends meet that they cannot afford to waste their money and their care on ornamental, and mere prize-winning stock. A notable feature is the display of agricultural implements, prominent — it might be said preeminent - amongst the exhibitors being Messrs. Walter Carson and Sons, of Dublin, whose extensive collection of mowing, reaping, and threshing machines, ploughs, harrows, grubbers, and more especially dairy apparatus well repaid examination. Messrs. McKenzie also show a variety of implements of the same class, and a number of English makers are also represented. Some articles of local make complete the catalogue.

The following are the judges awards relevant to Lisnavagh.

For the best Bull, calved on or after the 1st of January, 1879 —
1st prize. Lord Rathdonnell, Lisnavagh, Tullow, County Carlow;
2nd, D. J. Stapleton, Tullemain. Callan, County Kilkenny;
Highly commended, Humphry Smith, Mountmellick.

For the best Bull, calved in the year 1883—
1st prize, Francis W. Low, Kilshane, Tipperary;
2nd, Lord Rathdonnell, Lisnavagh, Tullow, County Carlow;
3rd, and commended, Thomas Lalor, Cregg, Carick-on-Sulr ;
Highly commended and reserved, William Day, Garryhack, Ballycogley, Wexford.

For the best Heifer, calved in 1883—
1st Prize, Lord Rathdonnell. Lisnavagh, Tullow;
2nd, reserved and highly commended, William Richard Meade, Ballymartle, Ballinahassig;
Commended, William F Budds, Courtstown, Tullaroan, Freshford, County Kilkenny, and William Johnson, Prumplestown House, Carlow.


Gilbert and Sullivan, Princess Aida. It transpires to be an exceptionally hot summer.

August 26: 'Lord Rathdonnell sent what the "Nationalist" [October 3rd 1885] described as "a force of servants, workmen, etc. sufficient to besiege the village" to a farm in the Rathvilly area from which Edward Bolger had previously been evicted, there to harvest an acre and a half of com and to carry it home to Lisnavagh in satisfaction of rent owed. Great indignation was felt in the area, as people thought it unfair that the man who sowed and grew the com should get no share whatever of the crop.’ (James P. Shannon out it in ‘Hacketsown in the 1880s’ (Carloviana, 2009, p. 27).

Sept 22: The gunboat HMS Wasp is wrecked off Tory Island, Co Donegal, with the loss of 52 lives; eight survive.

October 1: (courtesy of Michael Purcell) Carlow Sentinel. 1st October 1884.
On Tuesday afternoon, the 28th October, Mr and Mrs Clayton Browne entertained at Browne's Hill a large party of their friends and relations on the occasion of the celebration of their Golden Wedding.
They received numerous handsome presents, amongst them a gold cup, presented by their four children and twenty-one grandchildren.
They also received an address from the Select Vestry of the Parish of Carlow.
The following received invitations, most of whom were present to offer their congratulations in person :-
The Marquis and Marchioness of Kildare, Lord and Lady Rathdonnell, the Hon. Edward and Mrs Stopford, the Hon. Hugh and Lady Mary Boscawen, Sir Thomas and Lady Butler and Miss Butler, the Dowager Lady Butler and Miss C. Butler, Sir Charles and Lady Burton, the Hon Mrs Clements, Sir Clement and Lady Wolseley, the Right Hon Henry . Mrs Bruen, Mr Henry and the Misses Bruen ; Mr and the Hon Mrs Rochfort, Mrs and Mrs Kavanagh, Mrs W. Kavanagh and Mrs Meredith, Mrs Pack-Beresford and family, Mr and Mrs Clayton Browne and family, Miss G. Langrishe, the Dean of Leighlin and Mrs and Miss King and Miss A. Newton, Mrs Thomas, Mr and Mrs Jocelyn Thomas, Mr and Mrs Duckett, Mrs Lecky and Miss Watson, Mr, Mrs and Miss Watson ; Mrs Gray and Miss Watson, Mr Newton and Miss Newton, Mount Leinster ; Mr and Mrs Steuart Duckett, Mr, Mrs Bagenal, and Miss Hall-Dare ; Mr and Mrs Alexander, Major and Mrs Hutchinson, Mr and Mrs George Alexander and Mr S Alexander, Major and Mrs Tanner, Mr and Mrs Charles Duckett, Mr and Mrs Fred Lecky, and Mr R. Lecky, Mr and Mrs Rupert Lecky , Mr, Mrs and Miss Newton, Mr and the Misses Hore, Mr and Mrs Arthur and the Misses Fitzmaurice, Mr William and Mr and Mrs Edward Fitzmaurice, and Mrs Clarke, the Ven. Archdeacon and Mrs Jameson, Mr and Mrs William Fitzmaurice, Laurel Lodge ; Mr and Mrs Fitzmaurice, Fruit Hill, ; Dr and Mrs Ireland, Major and Mrs and the Misses Bloomfield, Mr and Mrs H. Cooper, Mr and Mrs Hall-Dare, Captain and Mrs Persse, Colonel and Mrs Vigors, Mr and Mrs Alcock, Rev J. and Mrs Dillon, Mr and Mrs Standish Roche, Mr, Mrs and the Misses Eustace, Castlemore, Mr and Mrs Eustace, Newstown ; Mr and Mrs Ponsonby, Mr and Mrs Hone, Very Rev. W.E. and Miss Ryan, Mrs Rawson, Mr and Mrs Cornwall Brady , Rev. C. and Mrs Bellingham, Mr and Mrs Borrer, Mr and Miss Cooper, Mr and Mrs Stuart, Mr and Mrs Lecky-Pike, Dr and Mrs Newell, Mr C. Butler, Mr J. Mrs and Miss Butler, and Miss Owen, Mrs Vesey, Rev. J. and Mrs Finlay, the Rev. T. and Mrs Philips.

Nov 1: GAA founded in Hayes Hotel, Thurles.

Nov 15: Berlin Conference convened at Bismarck's official residence on Wilhelmstrasse (site of the Congress of Berlin six years earlier) to organise the peaceful conquest of the content and, amongst other things, ho ho, to abolish slavery. Bismarck, the chairman, wasn't crazy about the whole empire idea and actually tried to give German Southwest Africa away to friendly Britain because it was such a headache! The British representative at the conference was Sir Edward Malet (Ambassador to the German Empire). Henry Morton Stanley attended as a U.S. delegate

Alleged Elopement Near Borris. Carlow Sentinel, 1884 (courtesy of Michael Purcell & the Pat Purcell Papers): "Our Borris correspondent informs us that excitement has been revived in the vicinity of Borris by the intelligence of the elopement of the daughter of a well-to-do farmer of that locality with her father's servant man. The young lady is well connected, and is said to have refused the hand of a respectable young farmer, although the match was considered very desirable on both sides. The runaways, it is asserted, started last week for New York, but the police do not appear to have been apprised of the occurrence."

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Above: In February 1885, Major Bunbury’s Mohican aged 11
competed in the .Grand National. This painting of the hose is by
George Paice and was painted in 1887. Mohican was a successful
racehorse during the 1880s. Major Bunbury was Tom's distant
cousin Major Ralph Hall Bunbury who married the widow of Hugh
Baker of Lismacue House, Bansha, County Tipperary. There was a
dispersal of his bloodstock from Lismacue after his death.

(Photo: Peter Bunbury via Maximilian Baron von Koskull)


Eugene McCabe's 'Death and Nightingales', adapted as a BBC TV series in 2018, was set in County Fermanagh in 1885.

January 16-18: Death in action at battle of Abu Klea of one of the sons of General Sir John Bloomfield Gough, Colonel of the Royal Scots. The Desert Column was engaged in "The Gordon Relief Expedition", a march across the desert to the aid of General Charles George Gordon at Khartoum, Sudan, when attacked by Mahdist forces.

January 27: Parnell turns the first sod on the West Clare Railway; see Myles Dungan's account here.

April (from the Pat Purcell Papers): 'On Saturday last, April 11th, Mr Jameson, Sub-Sheriff for Carlow, accompanied by his bailiffs and protected by a strong guard of police, visited the townland of Kilcloney, near Borris to seek possession from Mrs Anne Waters of her farm., in pursuance of a decree obtained by Mr Beresford the landlord for the recovery of a hanging gale. This hanging gale had been on the estate for more than a century and a half and was in existence long before the property came into the possession of the present landlord. Amongst those present were Joe Delany, a well known bailiff from Borris and an underling of Mr Beresfords named Burke who distinguished themselves throughout be their insolence and impertinence. The sub-sheriff arrived at noon and proceeded to take possession of the premises by having the furniture removed from the dwelling house. After part of the effects had been brought out , Mrs Waters, being advised by her friends that she had done all that was necessary as a protest, she satisfied the landlords claim by paying the money due. The proceedings were attended by a large crowd of local people with a contingent of horsemen present and the scene was also graced by the presence of a number of ladies.

The Rev. W.P. Bourke, who was loudly cheered, then addressed the assembled crowd - - He stated that he did not think it well that they should separate without protesting formally against the outrageous treatment that Mrs Waters had been subjected to.

Young Mr Beresford came of age a few weeks ago and his first introduction to his tenantry there was through the sheriff , who had come to eject Mrs Waters not because she was unable to meet all just demands on rent etc but because she had refused to pay the hanging gale which was due before Mr Beresford was born, or before Mr Beresford owned a piece of land in Kilcloney. The father of the present Mr Beresford was dead, and as they were told to say nothing of the dead except what was good, and as he had nothing good to say about the late Capt. Beresford he would extend to him the charity of silence.

From this day on , he said, the Beresford family will be known as "Hanging-gale Beresford". "I tell the people" he continued, "that they need not be particularly squeamish as to what means they would adopt to stop fox-hunting by the landlords on their land". Mr M. Waters thanked the people for coming out to support them. The gathering then dispersed cheering for Mrs Waters and the Irish National League.'

March 20: Tom wins the Pytchley Point-to-Point cup on a glorious spring afternoon, riding in the 14-stone division over 'a well-selected course near West Haddon in the presence of a good company of farmers and gentlemen.' Gordon Cunard was second and Captain Middleton was third. (Northampton Mercury, 21 March 1885). Further details were spelled by the Northampton Mercury the following week (Saturday 28 March 1885): As to the race itself, any description herein attempted must necessarily be rather incomplete. The lot were despatched to a fairly level start considering the number, Captain Middleton on a grey assuming the command, and the field quickly tailing off as each rider struck an independent line. At the first fence Mr. Kennard's mount compounded, and was not remounted. Up to the end of the first mile the running was alternately made by Mr. Cunard, Lord Rathdonnell, and Captain Middleton, and hereabouts the last-named came down in negotiating a stiff fence. When fairly in the line for home a rattling race ensued between Lord Rathonnell and Mr. Cunard, the first-named eventually winning by about a couple of lengths. Captain Middleton, who had pluckily re-mounted, coming in third, about the same distance away from Mr. Cunard. The others finished in the order previously given.—The company then moved off to the meet at West Haddon, and after several covers had been drawn blank, the hounds were turned homewards without having tasted blood.'

April 1 - 7: The Prince and Princess of Wales make their first visit to Ireland in 17 years. They bring their young son Prince Edward with them. There's an outstanding account of the occasion in The Times. After lunch the 16th Lancers escorted the Royal Couple down Nassau Street, Merrion Square and Mount Street to the RDS showgrounds at Ballsbridge where TK was part of a fine aristocratic gathering headed up by the Duke and Duchess of Leinster, the crowds waving handkerchiefs and cheering all the way.

June 8: Parnell and all 39 Irish Parliamentary Party MPs vote against Gladstone on a bill proposing additional taxes on wine and spirits. Gladstone's administration duly collapsed and Lord Salisbury, with Parnell's help, now formed a Conservative government.

June 9: Earl Spencer succeeded as Lord Lieutenant by the Earl of Carnarvon.

June 26: The Rathdonnells once again attended the State Ball at Buckingham.

July: Lord Salisbury, the Conservative leader, forms his first government; Lord Randolph Churchill (1849–1894), former school freind of Tom's from Eton days, becomes Secretary of State for India until government falls in November election. Edward Gibson, the former Attorney General, becomes Lord Chancellor of Ireland, with a cabinet seat, and is elevated to the peerage as Baron Ashbourne. The 4th Earl of Dunraven is appointed Under-Secretary for the Colonies.

Sept 22: Lord Randolph Churchill makes a speech in Ulster in opposition to Home Rule.

October [check]: Lord Chancellor Ashbourne single-handedly drafts and pushes through the Purchase of Land (Ireland) Act, aka the Ashbourne Act, whereby the Government offer up to £4 million to enable tenants to borrow the whole purchase price for their holdings, with an annula interest rate of 4% over 49 years. The terms are so generous, some wonder has Ashbourne come under Parnell's spell.

October 10: (Saturday) The Kildare Observer remarks that 'Major Bunbury, Lord Rathdonnell's brother, who got such a shaking fall with the Duke of Grafton's hounds the other day, found, when he had picked himself up and been duly 'vetted', that his collar-bone was not broken, as supposed, but dislocated - a curiosity in actions, I believe.' But was Jack Bunbury also known as 'Major Bunbury'?

November: An insight into the state of play between Henry Bruen and his tenantry can be found in this exchange which appeared in the Carlow Sentinel (and is reproduced here courtesy of Michael Purcell & the Pat Purcell Papers).


We have received the following for publication and commend to the careful attention of all engaged in rent agitation Mr Bruen's reply to the demand for a general reduction. While it shows conclusively that the demand is to a large extent forced and fictitious, it also proves Mr Bruen's desire to maintain the position he has always held in his dealings with his tenantry as a fair and considerate landlord :-

Shamrock Hotel, Carlow, November, 1885.

To the Right Honourable Henry Bruen, Oak Park, Carlow.

We, the undersigned tenants on your property, have come to a conclusion at a meeting held this day, that we cannot pay our present rents; we expect an abatement of 30% on this half year, and a reasonable time to pay our rents, as we cannot turn our cattle or sheep into money at present.

Patrick Norton, Ballyloo; Walter Cummins, Cloughna; Michael McDonald, Primrose Hill; Timothy Dowling, Linkardstown; Michael Wrafter, Knockthomas; Patrick Kehoe, Orchard; Edward Hayden, Knocknagee; Thomas Byrne, Carlow; James Byrne, Ballyhacket; Bernard Byrne, Ballyhacket; Pat Kealy, Gurteen; John Mahoney, Ballycarney; John Timmons, Quinagh; James McDarby, Cloughna; James Lennon, Cloughna; Pat Cummins, Nurney; Pat Doyle, Ballybannon; Pat Donohoe, Orchard; P. Haydon, Cloughna; William L. Bourne, Ballinacarrig; Michael O'Brien, Ballinacarrig; Nicholas Cosgrave, Orchard; James McDonald, Coolroe; William Kennedy, Orchard; Representatives, Martin and Thomas Byrne; Michael Keegan, Knocknagee; Michael Prendergast, Coolroe; Thomas Lyons, Coolroe; Robert Little, Ballyloo; Mathew Cummins, Ballybannon; William Byrne, Ballyhacket; Edward McDarby, Cloghna; Sam Snoddy, Quinagh; Pat Murphy, Ballyryan; Pierce Gall, Ballycarney; John Gorman, Newtown; Michael Nolan, Newtown; Peter Walsh, Newtown.

P.S -- Please reply to the above address.

Carlow Sentinel.

19th November 1885.

Mr Bruen's reply to his tenantry.

Addressed to Mr Patrick Norton, Ballyloo, Carlow.

Oak Park, Carlow.

Dear Sir -

I have received a communication from several of my tenants to which I am asked to send an answer, and your name being first on the list I address myself to you.

At first sight of the manifesto I feel some wonder why I should be asked to send any response, for the signatories commence by informing me that they have "come to a conclusion" on the subject described by them, viz., that 30% is to be deducted from my property, the balance to be payable when convenient to them.

But when I remember the fact, that I have had conversations with many of my tenants who have held quite a different tone, and that several, including some whose names are below your name on the document, have already paid their rent within the past month, I incline to the belief that it is the work of a few busy agitators, and that the great majority of my tenants will meet me on the terms and in the spirit which you and they know perfectly well, have guided our intercourse in the past.

I am quite ready to consider each case and give abatement's such as the circumstances seem to require, or reasonable extension of time, but a general uniform abatement I decline to give ; and I consider that those rents which have already been reduced under the provisions of the Land Law Act, should be maintained.

I remain, yours faithfully, (signed) Henry Bruen.

November 24: Following the fall of General Gordon at Khartoum and plagued by such a slim majority, Salisbury calls for a General Election.

Dec 1885: After the election, but before Parliament met, Herbert Gladstone, son of the Prime Minister, flew the famous Hawarden kite, by declaring that his father was moving towards Home Rule.

December 18: Election result. Despite widespread opposition to his conversion to Home Rule, Gladstone's alliance with Parnell leads to a narrow Liberal victory. Tom's friend, the 4th Baron de Robeck, stood as a Conservative Loyalist for the Northern Division of Kildare in opposition to Mr. J. L. Carew, the Nationalist candidate. In his address, he pledged support to the idea of a well-considered scheme of self-government for Ireland, but opposed separation as totally destructive to the interests of the country. The Baron was amongst the surprise losers - his tally of 3,168 votes fell well short of Mr. Carew’s 5,108.

Gilbert & Sullivan, The Mikado.


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From 1882 to 1886, Tom Rathdonnell rented Great Bowden Hall in Leicestershire from where, as
Bailly’s Magazine of Sports & Pastimes
observed in 1897, he 'hunted with the Pytchley South Quorn
(then Sir Bache Cunard’s) and Cottesmore hounds for several seasons, and no man went better or was
more popular in that famous country.’ As my father remarks: 'He seemed to fancy himself hunting with
one of the best (when not in his yacht) presumably from that house in Leicestershire. Small wonder
Lisnavagh was up for sale!? He did later build kennels for the Carlow at Kellistown.'

At Lisnavagh, we used to have the Pytchley Point-to-Point cup, won by Tom in March 1885, riding in
the 14-stone division over 'a well-selected course near West Haddon ... in the presence of a good
company of farmers and gentlemen.' Gordon Cunard [later Sir Gordon] was second and Captain
Middleton was third. One wonders if Rathdonnell's hunter of choice was Robin Grey, a hunter he
exhibited at the 1884 Royal Agricultural Show and which, wrote Baily's Magazine of Sports and
, Vol. 41 (1884), 'took our fancy very much as the stamp of an old-fashioned hunter,
clever enough to jump anything, but better adapted, perhaps, for the days when hounds were not
bred for speed, as they are now.’

I was a petrified 12 year old when I heard a noise in our dining room at Lisnavagh; I arrived into
the room just in time to see the shadow of a thief leaping out the window, clutching the Pytchley
Point-to-Point trophy in one of his hands! Alas, we never got it back.

It looks like they gave up Great Bowden after the tragic death of 37-year-old Amelia Lefroy
in February 1886. Euphemia Amelia Lefroy (1849-1886) was the daughter of the Rev Patrick
Murray Smythe
, Curate of Tamworth and Rector of Solihull, Warwickshire, and the wife of
Clement George Lefroy (1850-1917). Clement was a nephew of the Dowager Lady Rathdonnell;
his father Charles Edward Lefroy of Ewshott House (Itchel), Hampshire, was a barrister and taxing
officer who served as Secretary to the Speaker of the House of Commons. Clement and Amelia lived
at Wellesbourne, Warwickshire where they had a son Hugh and a daughter Janet Muriel. Amelia was
apparently visiting the Rathdonnells with her brother, possibly Pat Smythe, a well known clergyman
and fsiherman. Her husband survived her until 14 February 1917 when he died aged 66. They are both
buried at St Peter's Wellesbourne Churchyard.

In April 1887, Tom joined the Cunards and the Duke of Hamilton when they took 'a special train from
Market Harborough to convey themselves, their horses, and servants to hunt with the Bicester.' Three
years later he rode out with the Fernlie and took a tumble from his steed.

On 14 August 2018, my brother-in-law Andy Cairns drove me over to Great Bowden Hall, which was
less than 15 minutes drive from their place in Nevill Holt. The house stands just outside the village of
Great Bowden, midway between Leicester and Northampton on the Leicestershire side of the county
boundary, surrounded by the rich pastureland of the Welland Valley. We had no appointment but the
gates opened automatically as we approached so we span up the avenue and parked as discreetly as
possible. There were perhaps 12 or more other cars parked around about the house and it quickly
became apparent that this was a well-populated building. It transpired that the house had been
renovated and converted into apartments, with at least seven in the house itself, and the rest
scattered in the old outbuildings and stables. We befriended two lovely ladies chatting outside one
of the houses and they gamely invited us in. They were sisters, one of whom had just begun
renovating two of three former stables to become her new home. It was curious to think that Tom
Rathdonnell may have stabled his hunters in the very space that they were now so proudly showing
us. The Grand Union Canal flows right past, running all the way to London, with the next stop at
Foxton Lock; built in 1809, it provided a fuel supply and transport system for the local brickyard.
A husband of one sister told me the house used to belong to the Page family. It’s a curious sort of
house, a cream white villa with an odd and not wildly attractive central block.

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Above: A 14-acre field out the back of Great Bowden Hall is protected by dint of its ownership being
shared by the 14 or so people who own the property. This used to be great hunting territory but
apparently the Boxing Day meet of the Fernie Hunt by the Shoulder of Mutton pub in Great Bowden
village no longer happens. A Mulberry Homes development just outside the village has 350 people
on the waiting list. As we left the village, I admired the rectory and St Peter and Paul’s Church, both
made of ironstone; I imagine Rathdonnell was familiar with both of those buildings 130 odd years ago.


Nationalist and Leinster Times
Jan. 1886.
A letter has been received from Lord Rathdonnell, who is at present staying at Bowden Hall, Market Hallors, England, intimating that he has written instructions to his agent, Mr William Johnson, Prumplestown, Carlow, to allow the tenants on that portion of his estate situate in Rathvilly, county Carlow, a reduction of 15 per cent on their present rents, what they have already demanded through memorial submitted to his lordship.
[Note added by Michael Purcell 2012 - should read "Great Bowden Hall, Market Harborough", this letter led to a debate in the columns of the Nationalist during the following weeks, with Father John Phelan, the newly appointed parish priest of Rathvilly leading the way and attempting to stir up trouble. It appears he was ignored. Information courtesy of the Pat Purcell Papers]


"Lord Rathdonnell’s Agent on the Land League & the Public House" (Leinster Leader - Saturday 16 January 1886).
"A few days ago four of the tenants on Lord Rathdonnell’s estate, three of whom were served with civil bill processes, waited on the agent, Mr Johnson, and offered their rents, minus the reduction and law costs already incurred.
Mr Johnson said he could not give any reduction on the present rent, and wondered why the tenants could not pay their rents now in former times.
Mr John Nolan, one of the tenants, said the times were infinitely worse now than they were some years ago. Three years ago they could get prices for cattle, the half of which could not be realised now, and unless he was misinformed, Mr Johnson bad experienced some loss in that respect himself.
Mr Johnson — The times are not so bad at all. There is little depression, to be sure, but if you would drop subscribing to your Land League and other funds, and keep out of the public house, you would be able to pay your rents and be better off. It’s the Land League may be blamed for this work.
Mr Nolan — Why, Earl Fitzwilliam and several other landlords have given generous reductions to their tenants.
Mr Johnson — Earl Fitzwilliam has other incomes to live by, and can afford it. Lord Rathdonnell is not similarly situated.
Mr Nolan — It’s no wonder for Lord Rathdonnell to boast that he has the best paying property in Ireland, though never gives the tenants a reduction, or drains the land for them, like other landlords. Didn’t the tenants always pay you their rents while they were able?
Mr Johnson — Yes, I never had any trouble with them until the past few years; but you, Nolan, ought to pay me your rent, when I did not process you. I did not like to put coats you.
Mr Nolan — I am ready to pay you the rent now at the reduction, but can’t pay full.
Mr Johnson — Well, I can’t allow you any reduction. My instructions from Lord Rathdonnell are to give 15 per cent reduction to all the tenants on his property who have not received the benefit of the Land Act. The other tenants must abide by and pay the judicial rents.
The remainder the discourse was of no public importance, and the tenants left without paying, though being strongly induced to do so by Mr Johnson. I may remark, en passant, that this generous proposal of Lord Rathdonnell’s would not reach more than about five or six tenants on the property. The remainder of the tenants, in their eagerness to give him a Roland for his Oliver, either lugged him into court or signed for the judicial term of 15 years. I may observe also that Mr Johnson told the tenants that, according to the late Land Act, if they were evicted or allowed themselves to be dispossessed out of their holdings, they had no power or liberty, even though they might have the means to redeem, inside of six months.'


From "Carlow History and Society" (Editor, Dr. Thomas McGrath, ISBN 978-0-906602-386 - ‘The Landed Gentry in Decline – A Count Carlow Perspective’ by Jimmy ‘Toole, p. 758-759.]:

'In mid-January 1886 the Freeman's Journal reported that four tenants of Lord Rathdonnell, three of whom had been served with civil bills for six months rent, met land agent Mr. Johnson and offered him the rents less a reduction of 15 per cent and law costs involved in achieving the reductions. Johnson refused to take the rents stating that he could not agree to the reductions. Tenant John Nolan told him cattle were making half what they were getting three years earlier. Johnson had a rather different view of the reasons for their refusal to pay their rents at the normal rates ---------

The times are not so bad at all. There is a little depression to be sure, but if you would drop your leaguing, subscribing to the Land League and other funds, and keep out of the public house, you would be able to pay your rents and be better off. It's the Land Leauge may be blamed for this work.

Fr. John Phelan, parish priest of Rathvilly, took up the tenants' cause in a letter to the Freeman's Journal where he stated that the application by both classes of tenants for the 15% reduction had met with an obstinate determined non possumus. Lord Rathdonnell's conduct in this respect contrasted very unfavourably with the action of Earl Fitzwilliam and Lord Bessborough towards their tenants on almost adjoining estates, those benevolent noblemen having given reductions to their respective tenants of all creeds and classes without any exceptions or reservations whatecer of from 20 to 50 per cent. Fr. Phelan was caustic in his criticism of Lord Rathdonnell stating that the paltry abatement of 15 per cent scarcely entitled his lordship to take rank in public estimation among the kind and indulgent landlords of the country.

'But, sir, it is consoling to know that the days of heartless, unsympathetic landlordism are numbered and it soon will become as extinct as the dodo. Under the fostering care of a paternal Legislature the tenants' interests will be protected and the landlord's power for working evil be effectually destroyed'.


Jan 25: 'At a meeting of the Irish Privy Council at Dublin Castle today, Mr Arthur McMurrough Kavanagh was sworn in a member of the Council.' (Portsmouth Evening News, 25 January 1886)

Jan 26: Lord Salisbury government resigns.

Jan 30: Gladstone becomes Prime Minister for the third time and begins plan to introduce Home Rule. Many of the gentry regarded his Home Rule Bill as the work of the demon anti-Christ. Cartoons lampooning Gladstone adorned their W.C’s while his portrait stared up from the bottom of chamberpots at Tynan Abbey and Castlecoole (where the National Trust has it on display). When Queen Victorian offered to find a gift for Beauparc’s Bertha Lambert, a maid of honour, after she danced a Irish jig, Miss Lambert apparently replied: “The head of Mr Gladstone on a dish, ma’am.”

February 22: Lord Randolph Churchill is principal speaker at a 'Monster Meeting of Conservatives and Orangemen' in Belfast's Ulster Hall. ‘Ulster will fight and Ulster will be right,’ he proclaims in a speech that instills fear of rule by Roman Catholics in Dublin and incites militant loyalists.

February 23 (Tues): 'GREAT BOWDEN, Sudden Death.—An awfully sudden death took place Great Bowden Hall on Tuesday evening. The deceased, Amelia Lefroy, of Wellesbourne, Warwickshire, was on a visit to Lord and Lady Rathdonnell, and about 6.40 p.m. deceased rang her bedroom bell, which was answered her maid, who found her mistress very ill. A doctor was sent for, but the deceased expired before he arrived.' (Northampton Mercury, Saturday 27 February 1886, p. 8).

March 2: Bury and Norwich Post also reports on the sudden death of a Mrs. Lefroy, aged 37, at Great Bowden Hall, Leicestershire. The house may have been let to the Rathdonnells at the time and Mrs. Lefroy apparently went out hunting that day. 'On her return she went to dress for dinner. As she did not come down her room was visited, and she was found lying dead on the floor.'

March 27: Carlow Sentinel reports on a large gathering in Rathvilly for the unveiling and blessing of a statue of St Patrick, designed by Hague of Dublin and built in the studio of Pearse & Sharpe in Dublin, given to Rathvilly by the workmen on the Tullow & Baltinglass line of the railway. Like the church and grotto in Inchicore, the church and grotto in Rathvilly were built by the railwaymen. It is perhaps more than coincidence that four octogenarian ladies from Inchicore whom I interviewed for the ‘Vanishing Ireland’ project in 2010, and all connected by family to the railway, were familiar with Rathvilly and even knew Lawlor’s pub, but I was unable to establish any detailed link.

March: Carlow Town Commissioners officially open the newly constructed Carlow Town Hall, designed by architect William Hague.

March 30: Death of Laura, Viscountess Milton, mother of Billy Fitzwilliam.

April 8: Gladstone introduces Home Rule Bill with a two and a half hour long speech. It is a very limited offer - merely control over police, judicary and civil service. Parnell and Nationalists in full support but it was rejected by Parliament.

April 22: SALE OF SHORTHORN CATTLE AT LISNAVAGH. On Thursday Mr Thornton, the well-known shorthorn auctioneer, disposed of a draft of bulls at Lisnavagh. The animals were the property of Lord Rathdonnell and W. Johnson, Prumplestown House, and the condition in which they were brought under the hammer reflected the greatest credit on their caretakers. After a capital luncheon had been done ample justice to, Mr Thornton proceeded with the sale. Competition was limited, but considering the depression in the cattle trade, the prices obtained were up to a good average, some of the yearling bulls fetching twenty-three guineas. At the conclusion of the auction three hearty cheers were given for Lord and Lady Rathdonnell. (Kildare Observer and Eastern Counties Advertiser - Saturday 24 April 1886).

June 1: Rathvilly and Tullow Railway Stations open.

June 8: 93 Liberal MPs vote with the Conservatives against Gladstone's Home Rule bill and Gladstone's government effectively collapsed. Riots in Belfast begin.

June 26-July 1: The shipping magnate Bache Cunard stays at Lisnavagh, until 'kicked out' - see image of Nevill Holt below.

July: Gold discovered at Witwatersrand in the Transvaal leads to a gold rush and the establishment of Johannesburg. Britain did not welcome the increased international interest, especially from Germans who were financially backing the Transvaal and winning the most lucrative contracts. With Krueger on friendly terms with the Germans, it seemed the Transvaal was eclipsing the Crown Colony as the most influential part of South Africa.

July: Dr Brodie shot and killed his wife Molly Bunbury at their home in Spiddal.

August 3: Lord Randolph Churchill (1849–1894), former school freind of Tom's from Eton, becomes Chancellor of the Exchequer in the new Salisbury government, until 22 December. Lord Dunraven serves a second term as Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies (1886–1887); Lord Randolph Churchill is his mentor and horse-racing pal. The main foreign policy success of this adminiatration was the Mediterranean Agreements of 1887, a series of treaties signed with Italy on 12 February (through the mediation of Germany), with Austria-Hungary on March 24 and with Spain on May 4.

September 14 (Tuesday): An advertisement in The Times stated that "LADY RATHDONNELL highly RECCOMMENDS her experienced NORTH GERMAN GOVERNESS who will shortly be disengaged. French, music and usual English subjects. Address: Fraulein Moller, Lisnavagh, Tullow, Co. Carlow". Presumably the girls were learning German? One wonders whetehr the Fraulein's replacement was scheduled to be Effie Skinner, the Governess at the centre of the famous Coachford Poisoning Case of May 1887. In January 1887, Effie was dismissed by her employer Mrs. Philip Cross of Shandy Hall (the victim of the murder) and was set to take up new employment as a Governess in Carlow but the trial did not reveal which family in Carlow she was destined for. (That said, the time difference may be too much, not least considering Effie had only started with the Cross family in October 1886).

September 23: Tom's cousin Francis George Le Poer McClintock, M.A., B.D., installed as Rector of Drumcar.

October 13: The McClintock's are involved in the Land Wars, as per this report from the Waterford Standard - Wednesday 20 October 1886: EVICTIONS IN COUNTY KILKENNY … Evictions also took place on Wednesday last at Knockmoylan, the property of Mrs. Anne Florence Tighe [wife of the Rev Hugh Usher Tighe, half-sister to the 1st Baron Rathdonnell]. The farms in this case are situated at the southern end of the county, about six miles from the village of Ballyhale. The tenants are Richard Aylward, Edward Aylward, and Patrick Aylward, and an under-tenant of one of them. So carefully ' had the arrangements been made for carrying out the evictions that no apprehension whatever seemed to prevail in the minds of the people of the district of visit by the sheriff. Mr. John Fanning, solr., sub-sheriff for the county, accompanied by Mr. McClintock [probably Arthur McClintock of Rathvinden], agent of the property, and attended byCox and several bailiffs, left Kilkenny by the 7.25 a.m. train, protected by a party of 100 police, commanded by Mr. J. B. Sheehan, C. I.. Mr. George Holmes, D. I., and Mr. H, B. Morrell. D.L., being also with the protecting force. Mr. J. Fitzgerald- Lynch, R.M., had chief command of the party. On arriving at Ballyhale the people of the village evinced no little surprise at the appearance of so imposing aforce in their quiet little hamlet. Soon, however, surprise gave place to excitement, and scouts were sent out rapidly to gather "the boys," whilst the chapel bells tolled in Ballyhale and the neighbouring parishes. The force marched to Knockmoylan without any molestation, but the gathering and gradually increasing crowd each moment assumed a more and more threatening aspect. Coming to the scene of the intended eviction proceedings, an effort was made to arrive at a settlement between the parties. The agent offered to accept a year’s rent and costs from each of the tenants above named, and to allow time for the payment of the balance. The tenants, however, did not seem to be in a mood for making a settlement, and the bailiffs were accordingly called upon to do their duty, which they did in a short space of time, all the household effects, etc., being quickly removed. It was noticed that there was a very large quantity of new milk and cream preparing for churning, while not a cow, or any description of stock, was visible anywhere on either of the three farms. The peasantry were now seen flocking from over the surrounding hills, and asthe houses were being cleared a crowd of about 300 persons groaned at and hooted the bailiffs and police, whilst threatening cries were raised on every side. The tenants and their friends had evidently made up their minds to war a outrance, and would listen to no compromise. The evictions having been completed, a caretaker was placed in charge of the principal house, the others being locked up. The sheriff, the agent of the property, the Resident Magistrate, and the County Inspector then drove off amidst groans and hooting, similar “favours" being conferred upon them as they drove to Ballyhale. Everything having been completed the party of police under command of District Inspectors Holmes and Morrell marched towards Ballyhale, and for a considerable distance the peasantry “lined the ditches" along the road, flinging stones, mud, and other missiles at the police. At last, however, a party of 20 constables were detailed with batons to disperse the crowd, and it was a sight to witness how the peasantry “skeddadled" over ditches, across fields, and up the hills. Indeed it was currently rumoured next day that many sore heads tossed that night upon uneasy pillows in Mullinavat, Ballyhale, and the country round, and that imprecations load and deep were uttered against, “the peelers and their batons.” —Kilkenny Moderator.

November 8: Death of Fred Archer, the champion jockey from 1873 (aged 16) every single year until his premature death 13 years later. He won 21 classic races and rode 2,748 winners. His training diet of toast, castor oil and gin-laced tea, coupled with private tragedy, let him to shoot himself on the second anniversary of his wife’s death. He left £66,000.

November 17: Marriage of Henry Bruen of Oak Park, Co. Carlow, and Castleboro, Co. Wexford (brother to Katherine Anne, Lady Rathdonnell) to Agnes Mary McMurrough, youngest daughter of the Incredible Art MacMurrough Kavanagh, MP, of Borris House. That same year, Henry Bruen is elected High Sheriff of Co. Carlow.

December 22: Churchill suddenly steps down as Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Musical recitals instituted at Royal Dublin Society.

Historian Sir Henry Maxwell Lyte (1848–1940), a former school mate of Tom's from Eton, becomes Deputy Keeper of the Public Records (until 1926).

1886: Landlordism in Borris: 'On Monday last Mr Jameson, Sub-Sheriff of Carlow, accompanied by a force of twelve police under the command of Sub-Inspector Joy, proceeded to Borris to sell a horse the property of Mrs Anne Watters of Kilcloney, which had been previously seized. The seizure was made to realise a sum of 10 pounds which at the request of the landlord R.W. Pack-Beresford granted at the Courthouse, Carlow.
The history of Mrs Watters' persecution by the landlord ever since she dared to go into the land court to have a fair rent fixed is extraordinary, and shows an insane desire by the landlord to ruin a respectable, industrious tenant. In the year 1884 Mrs Watters had a fair rent fixed on her farm. In 1885 Mrs Watters offered the half year's rent due but it was refused by the agent Mr Fitzherbert of Abbeyleix and payment was demanded of the old hanging gale which had been running on the farm for upwards of 200 years.
Mrs Watters and her son Michael refused to yield to this unjust demand, and in the month of April their cattle were seized and sold by the sheriff. In 1886 a year's rent was again demanded and the tenant refused to pay that amount on account of the hanging-gale, which had been extorted. Legal proceedings were again taken and the interest in the farm was put up for sale in March of this present year. The farm was bought in for the tenant by another person and a years rent paid to the sheriff. The sheriff's costs amounted to 10 pounds to recover this cost a horse was seized on the understanding that it would be sold at a sale in Borris. The horse, which is a fine animal, was ridden by a boy into Borris. Both horse and boy were profusely decorated with green ribbons. Immediately behind the horse was led a donkey bearing on his back a grotesque figure dressed in full hunting costume. The figure was designed to typify landlordism but many said the makers of the figure were too flattering to that group. The rider of the horse and his queer-looking companion were met outside the town by the Borris Brass Band and escorted up and down the street. Meanwhile news was received that the sheriff and auctioneer , Mr George Wilson, had decided to sell the horse at a sale to be held on the farm at Kilcloney . On hearing this Rev. W.P.Bourke and Michael Watters and a large crowd proceeded to Kilcloney to demand that the sale be held in Borris. The sale was then cancelled.
The gathering was then addressed by Rev. W.P.Bourke who was received with cheers. He said that he had been out all morning although he was suffering from a severe cold. He said that Beresford was only hurting himself by making such an unjust demand for a hanging gale that was not called for for 40 or 50 years before. All opposition must be directed against "Hanging-gale Beresford" he declared. Mr P. Murphy proposed thanks to Mrs Anne Watters and her son Michael for having so courageously, now for the third time, faced the greedy landlord "Hanging-gale Pack-Beresford".
Mr J.C. Breen said the name Pack-Beresford sounded bad and if ever a name stunk in the nostrils of any right thinking Irishman it was the name of Pack-Beresford for he had attempted to sell out Mrs Watters farm and make her family quit the country.
Michael Watters then addressed the meeting , he thanked all present for
their support and the countrymen in America and Australia who were sending over large sums of money to the National League to support the downtrodden for victory.
If there was one spot more than another in all Ireland where the people should be united for the overthrow of landlordism it should be in Carlow. There is not a place in Ireland that has suffered so much from landlords. It was here that the saddest scenes ever witnessed were made manifest. They could all recall the days of Charley Doyne who spread desolation over the entire country, he drove thousands of souls out without a home or shelter. From the hillsides of the White Mountains, to St. Mullins and Marley and through Slyguff and Kilcloney.
Today we have another Charley --Mr Charley Thorpe to do the landlords dirty work.
The meeting then broke up but before doing so they dragged the landlord effigy" from the donkey and after being deluged with paraffin oil was set fire to and reduced to ashes.
' (PPP)

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During the 1880s, Tom Rathdonnell befriended Sir Bache Cunard, a polo and fox-hunting enthusiast, who lived at Nevill Holt Hall from 1876 to 1912. In 1896, he married the San Francisco socialite Maude Burke (aka Emerald), who found the hunting world dreary; their only child Nancy Cunard was born at Nevill Holt in 1896. We visited Nevill Holt in August 2018 when we stayed with Ally’s sister Liz Cairns and her husband Andy; their charming house, which lies to the back of the walled garden and main house, was built in 1880, not long after Sir Bache arrived. We also strolled through the graveyard where families like Thorpe and Bates lie. The Cunards are not here: Sir Bache is in Stibbington, Cambridgeshire; Emerald was scattered in Grosvenor Square, London; and Nancy lies in Paris.

In 1886, Bache Cunard paid a return trip to see Tom at Lisnavagh, my family home in County Carlow, where the Visitor’s Book states that “B. Cunard” arrived on 26 June but was “kicked out July 1st 1886.” The line below that has been cut out from the book, which always intrigued us as children. And below that it states: Reserved some self esteem. Clever head for calculation – very fond of argument & contradiction. Obstinate & weak willed. Sympathetic – kind heart – affectionate & constant. Compromising – rather narrow-minded & selfish. Quick temper. Plucky & sometimes rush. Love of management. Tidy.

Was that written by Bache himself!? Quite possibly but there’s nothing quite like it in the Visitor’s Book which is otherwise a sober list of names and dates! He can’t have been that badly behaved though because he came to stay at Lisnavagh again the following year, 12 July to 1 August, and this time his name is followed by the remark: “Hear, hear” to above statement. House left sitting.

The sprawling house of Nevill Holt Hall itself became a prep school in 1919. Since 2000, it has been restored by its present owner David Ross of Carphone Warehouse. The village of Nevill Holt comprises a warren of cottages and walls, low and high, all made of iron stone, approached by an oak lined avenue. Its set high upon a hill overlooking the saucer like landscape, with landmarks such as the towers of Corby steel station in Nottinghamshire; the Fitzwilliam’s sometime abode of Rockingham Castle; and the lovely town of Uppingham in nearby Rutland where we drank a curious Beetroot Latte in Scandimania, strolled through the school and admired Thomas Brock’s statue of a former headmaster.

Belton House near Uppingham and East Langton Grange are both mentioned in the Rathdonnell correspondence. It’s notable that Tom had a commission as a Captain in Prince Albert's Own Leicestershire Yeomanry Cavalry, which he resigned in 1892, and that he favoured Leicester Border sheep. This is Saxon territory, Nether This, Ham That, and includes the Eyebrook reservoir by Stoke Dry where the Dambursters practiced dropping their bouncing bomb in another age. Nevill Holt is 17 miles
from the Civil War battlefield of Naseby and, as of 2018, about an hour from London.


January 29: The Dublin newspaper known as The Union is founded. Its aim, as stated in its first edition was to be "a Journal devoted to the maintenance of the Union in the three kingdoms."

Feburary 10: The Right Honourable Arthur McMurrough Kavanagh, P.C., Lieutenant of the county of Carlow, has, with the approval of his Excellency the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, appointed Denis R. Pack-Beresford, Esq. of Fenagh Lodge to be a Deputy Lieutenant for that county. (From the Carlow Sentinel).

Francis Brooke becomes agent to Earl Fitzwilliam's estate at Coolattin, in succession to Robert Chaloner and his son Robert Chaloner junior.

February 10: Death of Charles FitzGerald, 4th Duke of Leinster.

Feb 17: The New Ross Workhouse Riot of 1887 kicks off when up to 400 workhouse inmates - led by women, many of them “unmarried mothers” - attack the master and vice-guardians of the union.

March 1: Queen Victoria holds another Levee at St. James's Palace. The Earl of Morton, who had lately succeeded to the title, was presented to the Queen by his friend, Lord Rathdonnell. The Earl had married Helen Ponsonby two years earlier which may be the origin of their connection.

March 5: Foxhunt at Lisnevagh: 'Tuesday March 5th [1887] saw the Carlow and Island Hounds at Lisnevagh, the seat of Lord Rathdonnell, and though his lordship has this winter abandoned the hunting saddle for the deck of his yacht he will , I am sure, be pleased to read how we found a smart fox in the laurels of the pleasure grounds; how he took us past the farm, and, running inside the demesne wall, with the field pounding alongside on the road, at last elected to leave at the Tallow [SIC] extremity of the demesne; how we hunted him merrily to the railway, ran parallel to it for a time, and then, inclining to the left, marked him to ground near Tankardstown cross roads, after a cheery twenty five minutes, over a good country. (Transcribed from a Copybook by Michael Purcell)

March 7: On the very day that Tom's old school comrade Arthur Balfour takes office as Chief Secretary of Ireland, The Times publishes a series of articles on "Parnellism and Crime" between March 7, 1887 to April 17, 1888 accusing Charles Stewart Parnell of involvement in illegal activities, in particular, involvement of the 1882 Phoenix Park Murders. A special commission, known as the "Times Commission", is proposed by Lord Frederick Cavendish to investigate the allegations, as well as investigate links between the Home Rule party and the Fenians, eventually proving the letters forgeries written by journalist Richard Pigott in 1890. Parnell was personally vindicated by the Parnell Commission in 1888–89.

March 22: Death in horse riding accident of Constance Duguid, elder daughter of J. Duguid of Dover, for whom the replica of Salisbury Cathedral in Myshall was built.

March 29: The Irish Crimes Act of 1887 is introduced by Rathdonnell's former Eton colleague Arthur Balfour in response to the boycott of certain landlords by their tenants (led by the National Land League), suspending the right to trial of people suspected of involvement in the boycott. The Crimes Act was passed in September, despite protests from Liberal and Home Rule Members of Parliament, and would continue until 1890. Balfour later enacts the policy of "killing Home Rule with kindnes".

April 1 (Friday): 'A bye-day was arranged at Ashlands, Billesdon (Mr. . R. A. Falkner's). The weather was about as bad as it could possibly be. After a very stormy night, the morning broke even worse than the night, and as the day wore on wind and rain and hail in- creased. At times the force of the storm was nearly enough to part rider from steed, but it takes very rough weather to stop the man bent on hunting, that is if the ground is fit. I may add that several ladies braved the elements, amongst them being the Duchess of Hamilton and Lady Rathdonnell.' (Leicester Chronicle, 9 April 1887)

April 2: 'Several gentlemen had a special train from Market Harborough to convey themselves, their horses, and servants to hunt with the Bicester. Amongst them were Sir Bache Cunard, Mr. Gordon Cunard, the Duchess of Hamilton, Lord Rathdonnell, Sir Saville Crossley, M.P., Mr. R. A. Falkner, and others.' (Leicester Chronicle, 9 April 1887).

April 19: Gladstone delivers his speech on 'The Irish Question'. Arthur Balfour is by now on course to orchestrate a radical overhaul of the 1881 Land Act; he also secured another £5 million to purchase land in Ireland under the Ashbourne Act of 1885. As Chief Secretary, he also supported calls for a Catholic university, despite widespread opposition to the idea of state-sponsored denominational education.

May 1: Death of Admiral E. G. Fishbourne, C.B., a former naval colleague of Tom Bunbury's father in the 1850s who was also from Carlow.

May 5: The first meeting of the new Hacketstown Dispensary Committee was held, with Lord Rathdonnell as chairman and William Murphy of Ballykillane as vice-chairman. There were twenty-one members on this committee and of these only six, all elected members of the Board of Guardians, were Nationalists. As James P. Shannon out it in ‘Hacketsown in the 1880s’ (Carloviana, 2009, p. 26), 'The anti-Nationalist majority could then obviously rule the roost any time they cared to tum up.’ At the first meeting there was a failed coup to oust Nicholas O'Toole from the position of Hon. Sec. and replace him with Mr. W.E. Jones.

May 18: (Tuesday) As the Jubilee celebrations continue, the Rathdonnells attend another State Ball at Buckingham at which Henry Tinney's orchestra unleashed the quadrilles, valses and polkas.

May 22: Death of John Aloysius Blake, the sitting MP for Carlow. A bye-election in August beckons.

The months of March, April and May were consistently cold and dry, with little rainfall.

June 20: The Special Irish Bureau "foil" the Jubilee Plot, a supposed assassination attempt against Queen Victoria. In reality it was a state sponsored covert operation, sanctioned by the Prime Minister Lord Salisbury, and aimed at discrediting Irish nationalism. It is not certain whether William Melville, the bureau's Kerry-born head, was aware of the deception. (Melville is said to be the inspiration for 'M' as seen in 007 movies). The event was closely aligned with the Pigott forgeries.

June 21: Queen Victoria celebrated her Jubilee.

June 22: At the height of the controversial Bodyke evictions, in Co. Clare, the Nenagh Guardian (Wednesday, June 22, p. 6) reports on 'an interesting incident' which was witnessed when Lord Rathdonnell, headed for Dublin, drove from Lisnavaght to Rathvilly with his wife, and there met '... a large deputation of labouring men who solicited employment. The poor fellows stated that they were in a state of starvation from there mere want of work, as the farmers were not giivng employment. His lordship listened attentively to their statement and in a most courteous manner expressed his sympathy with their condition. As to giving them employment, he said he would see about providing them, as far as lay in his power, with work. He furthermore showed his sympathy in a practical manner by giving them some money to supply their immediate wants. The deputation left the station after the departure of his lordship for Dublin and her ladyship for Lisnavagh, thankful for the way they were treated, and expressing their earnest wishes that Lisnavagh may not be left longer empty.'

June: At the start of June, the temeperature rocketed into a heatwave that lasted until 10th July.

June 26: The highest temperature ever recorded in Ireland, 33.3C (91.9F) ocurred at Kilkenny Castle. A disastrous harvest loomed but August rains mercifully saved the pasture and root crops.

July 2-7: WImbledon: Fifteen-year-old Lottie Dod wins the Ladies' Singles Championship for the first of five times.

July 10: Six-week long heatwave ends.

July 12 - 1 Aug: The shipping magnate Bache Cunard returns to stay at Lisnavagh.

Aug 13: Special committee appointed to investigate Parnell’s ties to Phoenix Park murders.

August 17: A meeting held in the Town Hall, Athy, to promote the drainage of the River Barrow, became a little heated when Mr Denis Bunbury of Grangemelon took to the floor. I know no more of Denis Bunbury's ancestry but, according to the Leinster Leader, he "said he was a small landholder within a few miles of Athy, and he was certain that (as contemplated to be done) the land at his side would be completely ruined being low-lying, by the increase flood of water." Mr W. G. Strype, the civil engineer entrusted with the project, "explained that the controlling sluices would prevent any such occurrence.” This prompted a man by name of C Loughman to round on Denis Bunbury, saying: “This is a public meeting to forward the Barrow drainage, and whoever sent you here to obstruct our business and the work, you should not do it.” Several voices were then raised, calling to "put him out.” It fell to the Rev. John Staples to calm the crowd by stating "that Mr Bunbury's question was a quite natural one, but the meeting had not understood him, and Mr Strype’s answer was most satisfactory, and his scheme would meet any such objection.” Denis Bunbury then assured the meeting "he would like to see the scheme extended as far as Carlow, and he did not mean to oppose it any way, but rather was very anxious for it.” (Leinster Leader - Saturday 20 August 1887). This may explain the name of Bunbury Bridge (above) on the Barrow Navigation between Athy and Carlow. Was this an accomodation bridge?

August 24: Election, unopposed, at County Carlow by-election of 87-year-old James Patrick Mahon, one of history’s most energetic humans. Born in Ennis on St Patrick’s Day 1800, he was the son of well-to-do Catholics whose mother and wife were both heiresses. Educated at Clongowes and Trinity College Dublin, he started life as a barrister and politician. He was a major backer of Daniel O’Connell’s successful Catholic Emancipation campaign, which permitted Roman Catholics to sit in the British Parliament. He subsequently fell out with O’Connell. He was Whig MP for Ennis from 1847-1852 and Nationalist MP for Clare (1879-1885), being a founding member of the Home Rule League. He was a supporter of Charles Stewart Parnell but, an old friend of William O’Shea, opposed him during the split. The O’Gorman Mahon, as he called himself, had an astonishing life outside Ireland. He travelled extensively across Russia, China, India and South America. He served in the Russian Tsar’s Imperial Bodyguard and journeyed overland from Finland (where he hunted bear with the tsarevich) to Siberia, and south through India to the Middle East. He was a mercenary in the Ottoman and Austrian armies, a general in the government forces in the Uruguayan Civil War and a Union Army officer during the US Civil War. He also reputedly held office in the Brazilian and Chilean forces. He had a passion for duelling, and claimed to have fought 13 duels, in which he was injured in six but drew blood in seven. His friends included the French king Louis-Philippe (he was a court favourite in the 1830s), Ferdinand de Lesseps (engineer of the Suez Canal) and the German chancellor Otto von Bismarck (whom he met when he moved to Berlin in 1877). When he was elected Nationalist MP for Carlow, he became the oldest member of the House of Commons, which status he retained until his death in 1891.

The period of rent set by the Land Court is reduced to 3 years.

According to census records 69,084 emigrate from Ireland to the United States.

The Plan of Campaign starts its first phase as tenant farmers begin withholding rent from landlords. It concludes when the 1887 Land Act, an extension of the Ashbourne Act of 1885, is passed by Parliament.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle publishes the first Sherlock Holmes book.

September: Birth of Henry Arthur Bruen, son and heir to Henry and Agnes Bruen of Oak Park, and nephew to the Rathdonnells. He is to be their only surviving child.

Sept 16: A REPRESENTATIVE PEER: PRONI refers to largely duplicated letter of 16 September 1887 from Lord Rathdonnell, Lisnavagh, Rathvilly, Co. Carlow, to Lord Belmore asking for his support in the next vacancy but one in the Representative Peers lists. 'In consequence of the sad death of Lord Doneraile, there is a vacancy among the representative peers of Ireland. Lord Kingston and Lord Wicklow were selected as the next two candidates for election, and one of them will now be elected in the room of Lord Doneraile, leaving only one name on the selected list. I venture therefore to ask for your vote and support after Lords Kingston and Wicklow have been elected representative peers. I am a Conservative in politics, in what I consider the true sense of the word, namely, a constitutionalist and a Unionist, in favour of such judicious reforms as may from time to time be necessary to adjust and harmonise the principles of firm government with individual liberty. I am sensible of the important responsibilities at the present time resting on a member of the Upper House of Parliament, and if by your kind aid I succeed in obtaining a seat, I shall endeavour to justify the trust you repose in me.I may say that I am habitually a resident in Ireland.'

First All-Ireland hurling finals takes place.

October 9 (Sunday): 38 hunting horses belonging to Captain William Hollwey Steeds were poisoned in their stables at Clonsilla House. Thirteen of the hunters died, including Minnie, a beloved pony belonging to Agnes Steeds that been used to get urgent veterinary assistance from Dublin. Captain Steeds, an ‘extensive commission agent’, had previously supplied the horses for the Bray and Greystones Coach. It transpired they had been fed a bran mash that had been sweetened with a toxic lead acetate. Nobody was ever charged but it is assumed the poisoning was connected to the ongoing Land Wars in which hunts were targeted. Tom Rathdonnell, who had exhibited hunters alongside Captain Steeds at the Horse Show two months earlier, must have bene inclined to step up security. Captain Steeds reputedly ceased dealing with the village blacksmith and built his own forge instead, as well as a private dwelling for his head groom. In 1901, Captain Steeds’ polo team Nomads won the All-Ireland Open Cup. That same year, the Steeds household included a valet, housemaid, cook, two general domestics, two handmaids and five grooms who also doubled as domestic servants. Captain Steeds died following a hunting accident in 1914. See Weekly Irish Times (Saturday 15 October 1887) and also here.

November: Opening of new St Patrick Church in Rathvilly. The original chapel in Rathvilly was a large old slated building built by Father Wall in 1785 and was still in use as a national school in 1883. It ceased to be used with the opening of the new church, ‘after which it was demolished and the building materials utilized for parochial purposes’. A list of all those living in the USA who subscribed to the building can be found here on Carlow Rootsweb. Jack Langton of Carlow Rootsweb gave an entertaining anecdote about how his great-grandfather was asked to help solicit funds for a new Catholic church in Moneenroe. As he knew everyone, he decided he would ask of both Catholic and Protestant alike. Should a non-Catholic demur, he would then ask if they would like to contribute to a fund to tear down the old Catholic church.

1887 Land Act, an extension of the Ashbourne Land Act, allows for excluded leaseholders into the system set up two years previous.


Feb 19: At first meeting of Rathvilly GAA Football Club, Edward O’Toole is selected as captain of their first team, but resigns three months later.

July 22: Death of Robert Clayton Browne of Browne's Hill, leaving three sons and a daughter.

August 2: A letter from William Harknett, Lord Rathdonnell's gamekeeper, is published in the Enniskillen Chronicle and Erne Packet (p. 3): SIR.—I am glad to send you a few lines respecting my rearing this season. I never had better luck with my young pheasants, I say from good experience, have g used Mr Chamberlain’s meat Food for upwards of 20 years, that the Spanish Meni Caycar Excelsior and Aromatic Compound also the Double per Greaves is the best Food I ever used and recommend it to all Gamekeepers.—I remain. Sir, yours faithfully, Wm HARKNETT, (Head Keeper to Lord Rathdonnell)

August 4: Sale of just over 110 acres at Willistown beside Drumcar, complete with dwelling house, offices, orchard and garden. (Announced in The Irish Times, July 26th).

August: Dublin Horse Show involves more than a thousand mostly Irish-bred horses. It is the largest and possibly the best show the RDS had yet hosted with hundreds of huntsmen from England coming across to purchase good Irish hunters. Tom entered a mare by Revenge into the 4 year old hunting fillies class and came second to Mr. Donovan.

Oct 28: Ganly's oversees either the first or second annual sale of 'a large number of fat cattle, horses and sheep, the property of Lord Rathdonnell', and it was held there every year for the next nine years. 'COUNTY OF CARLOW. MESSRS GANLY have been favoured with instructions to SELL BY AUCTION, For the Right Hon Lord Rathdonnell, On MONDAY 29th Oct, 1888. BALLYOLIVER HOUSE, LISNAVAGH. Half mile from station. GSWR, At One o'clock sharp. 150 Cattle in forward condition, 50 Fat Mountain Wethers, a large number of Hunters and Harness Horses, Brood Mares, Fillies, and Colts; also thecelebrated sire Revenge. Vide future advertisements. GANLY, SONS, AND CO, Auctionneers, 18, 19 and 20 USHER’S QUAY. DUBLIN; And Cattle Markets. Liverpool & Manchester. (Dublin Daily Express - Monday 24 September 1888)

General: TK elected to the Committee of the Royal Dublin Society.

Jack the Ripper on the loose in London.

Disastrous GAA tour to the USA coincides with Harrison's victory over Cleveland in US elections.

After signing successive treaties with the then ruling Somali Sultans, the British established a protectorate in the Horn of Africa referred to as British Somaliland.

One of Lady Rathdonnell’s guests at this time was the writer Francis Wynne, a close friend of Katherine Tynan and author of ‘Whisper!’ (1890). Francis was a regular correspondent with Matthew Russell (1834-1912), a Jesuit priest who became founding editor of the Irish Monthly magazine. Yeats described Fr Russell as ‘a Catholic priest of the most courteous, kindly and liberal mind’. was also corresponding with Dora Sigerson at this time. In one letter Francis told Father Russell how it gave her ‘a warm glow in the region of my heart when I think of you’, and went on to 'wonder what my host Lady Rathdonnell would say if she saw me writing like that to a dangerous Jesuit.’ [Francis Wynne to Russell, n.d. [1887-1890], irish Jesuit Archives, J27/144 (49). Quoted in 'Engendering Ireland: New Reflections on Modern History and Literature’ by Rebecca Anne Barr, Sarah-Anne Buckley, Laura Kelly (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015).

See: Miscellaneous County Carlow Inscriptions extracted from 'Journal for the Preservation of the Memorials of the Dead in Ireland', 1888. (Thanks to Terry Curran).

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Above: Lisnavagh House @ James Fennell.


George Alexander, younger brother of Major John Alexander (1850-1944, of Zulu fame) of Milford, Co. Carlow, starts a four year trip to Calgary (roughly 1889-1893) looking at the area's business potential. He was joined intermittently by his first cousin, Henry Bruen Alexander, brother of Nannie Alexander, and in the summers by his brother John. John's main interest seems to have been the hunting opportunities and sight-seeing. He talks in his diary in 1894 of seeing Niagara Falls, and being mildly impressed. Henry and George remained on out there, buying a ranch called "Two Dot" near Nanton and immersing themselves in the burgeoning business world of Calgary which would go one to become the oil capital of Canada. George ended up living in Kaslo on Kootenay Lake. By 1900, according to Henry Cornelius Klassen's "Eye on the Future: Business People in Calgary and the Bow Valley 1879-1900" (2002), George was the leading businessman in the town, owning a substantial business in the town called "The Alexander Block" which has since been demolished. He owned a number of mines and sort of “ran” the town. He and his wife went back to England in 1908. Henry Bruen Alexander spent some time in Canada and also owned but never ran any of the mines he often co-shared with his cousin George. Henry Bruen Alexander ended up in Africa, dying in Kenya in 1932. There is a Calgary newspaper reference online that mentions George Alexander welcoming some compatriots on a visit to Calgary around 1894, including a de Robeck. One of the a Eustace family from Castlemore may also have been involved.They appear to have sold up just before the oil was discovered. If anyone has further particulars of this adventure, please let me know.

January 8th: Leonard Morogh, a solicitor and land agent who had effectively Mastered the Ward Union since 1866, went out with the Wexford Hounds. At Ballymockesy near Castleboro, Lord Carew’s seat, he was riding quietly over a small gap in a wattled fence when thrown on his back through his horse “pecking”. His spine was dislocated and he died a few days later and was buried in Glasnevin. [Years later, the IRA would creep past the spot where Leonard lay clutching his back, on their way to burn down the Big House].

February 22: Death of Lord Dunsany, brother to Horace Plunkett and father to the writer.

March 30: Opening of the first Carnegie Library at Braddock, Pennsylvania, and home to one of the Carnegie Steel Company's mills. A total of 2,509 Carnegie libraries were built around the world between 1883 and 1929, including 66 in Ireland, of which 62 survive, most of which were built after 1900.

April 10 (Wed): Tom Rathdonnell elected a Representative Peer of Ireland in place of Lord Dunsany, some 18 years after his uncle, the 1st Lord Rathdonnell, was erroneously told that he too would become a Representative Peer. As such, Tom was henceforth one of the Irish nobility chosen to sit in the united House of Lords at Westminster.

April 19: Lord Lucan was likewise elected a Representative Peer, filling the seat of the lately departed 3rd Earl of Portarlington.

June 12: The worst rail disaster in Irish railway history, 80 people mostly children were killed and almost 200 injured, when an excursion train crashed outside Armagh.

June (15?): L’Abbesse de Jouarre, co-owned by Lord Randolph Churchill and the Earl of Dunraven, won the Epsom Oaks; the beautiful black mare was nicknamed "Abscess on the Jaw" by those who found her French moniker too difficult to pronounce.

August: "THE LATEST DODGE OF THE LANDLORDS. OUR LOCAL SYMPATHISERS. The Irish Catholic published last week a long list of the shareholders in the Land Corporation of Ireland Guarantee Company, Limited—one of the latest landlord dodges to crush the tenants and smash the Plan of Campaign. It forms a companion list to that published by the same newspaper a few weeks ago. We extract the names of our local sympathisers with this new movement for the extermination of poor tenants." So wrote the Leinster Leader on Saturday 31 August 1889; the first named on their list was “Rathdonnell, Lord, Lisnavagh, Tullow, peer, 5 shares” followed by Arthur MacMurrough Kavanagh of Borris House, with 15 shares, and Henry Bruen, of Oak Park, Carlow with 5.

August 30: The Light Railways (Ireland) Act provides State assistance for the construction of narrow gauge lines (known as Balfour Lines) to disadvantaged areas such as West Mayo.

The Rathdonnells sail the Mediterranean on board the yacht Nukteris - there is an album of that name in the Lisnavagh Archives (M/6 and H/3) containing mainly commercial photographs of North Africa, Sicily, Portugal, etc.

Oct 5: 'The Right Hon. Arthur McMurrough Kavanagh, who is lying dangerously ill at Chelsea, passed a favourable night. He is suffering from pneumonia, with complications.' Bucks Herald - Saturday 05 October 1889

Oct 13: The Marquis of Londonderry, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, visits Belfast to give it official recognition as a City.

October 1889: 'Mr Denis R. Pack-Beresford -" hanging -gale Beresford"- a young man who seems bent on perpetuating the evil traditions of his family- has made himself most unpopular amongst the people of Carlow by his harsh treatment of the poor widow woman, Mrs Anne Watters of Kilcloney, Borris and now another notice from "hanging-gale Beresford" makes clear his intention to take further law proceedings against his tenant, Mrs Watters, for rent and has duly been served upon her in the last few days legal notice by Mr Thorp of Bagenalstown. Two months ago this tenant had to lay down, in one payment, the full amount of three half years rent and costs. We know for sure what is to follow now for Mrs Watters, who we should say had better look out again! .

Mrs Watters effects have been seized by the sheriff year after year. Those who are in favour of fox hunting would do well to take note of this, they will see that this rackrenter's greedy desire has done more than all the others to work out its total extinction. First and last "hanging-gale Beresford" has proved himself destitute of common decency or he would never have entered into a conflict with his tenant for a paltry "hanging-gale" that accrued in the days of some unknown landlord long before his great grandfather was born.

One of the collectors for the Bagenalstown Races Fund having taken a subscription from "hanging-gale Beresford" has returned the subscription. Now " hanging-gale Beresford" has informed his lofty friends and sympathisers of his chagrin, and they are now asking that their subscriptions be also returned. Major Alexander, who had intended running a horse in a race, wrote to say, "under no circumstances, would I give the Race Meeting my support". We congratulate the Bagenalstown Race Committee on having disassociated themselves from the rackrenters and evictors of the County Carlow.' (From a copybook / scrapbook in the Pat Purcell Papers).

December 1889: Irish National League meetings discussing the Beresford vs Watters events.

Ballon and Rathoe Branch Monthly meeting. The secretary noted 54 men from Ballon and 3 from Rathoe in attendance. He recorded that "the inclemency of the weather accounted for the numerical inferiority of the deputation from Rathoe". A letter was read from the Borris Branch relative to the monstrous behaviour of Mr Pack-Beresford of hanging-gale notoriety, towards a tenant of his named Mrs Watters. The principal feature of the letter was a resolution which the Ballon / Rathoe branch was asked to adopt, to stop Mr Beresford from hunting with the Carlow hounds. One member pointed out that they could not stop him hunting as he is in the habit of riding on the roads. Mr Hanlon, said that he did not approve of this method of stopping hunting. After further conversation the meeting unanimously adopted the resolution and directed the secretary to communicate their intentions to Mr Robert Watson, the Master of the hounds. (From PPP)

Carlow town, Tinryland and Bennekerry Branch. Meeting held in Town Hall. A resolution was read from Borris condemning the treatment which Mrs Waters had been subjected to by the landlord, Mr Beresford, and expressed the opinion that the farmers ought, in self-respect and to show their sympathy by preventing Beresford from hunting over their lands. The Chairman, Mr John Kelly, said that it was for the farmers to decide if they would permit this objectionable person to hunt over their lands. (From PPP)

Bagenalstown Branch. Following a lengthened debate the following resolution was passed. We call upon Mr Beresford to reconsider his harsh treatment of Mr Michael Waters and his mother and ask him "to put Mr Waters on an equality with the other tenants on the estate, failing to do this we ask the tenant farmers to mark their disapproval of his treatment by preventing him from hunting over their lands". (From PPP)

Tullow Branch. The meeting was requested by the Borris branch to oppose the tyrannous treatment of Mr Michael Waters , who was one of their members. James Murphy said that the Beresfords are the sorest and bitterest landlords in the county Carlow. The Chairman, Mr Thomas Bolger, asked if anyone could enlighten them as to the merits of this case. He said that he was inclined to question anything that comes from Borris as the people of that place have been very unreliable in the past and he was reluctant to stop Mr Beresford from hunting over his lands. Mr Michael Murphy from Roscat told the meeting that the hounds of the hunt had chased a pony of his across a wire fence, causing such injuries to the animal as caused its death in a short time. He sought compensation from Mr Watson who directed him to Mr Hardy Eustace who told him that the huntsman was irresponsible for every and all damages whilst engaged in the chase. The Chairman stated that in his opinion the hunt was eminently calculated to develop both muscle and daring ; "and we know that some of the most daring officers the patriot armies of Ireland ever produced got their training in the hunting field, albeit the majority of modern foxhunters would sooner be considered West Britons". The secretary was directed to write to Borris to suggest a county convention on the subject. (From PPP)

Newtown Branch. The meeting after lengthened consideration of a Resolution from Borris to stop Mr Beresford from hunting over the land in the area, and of which he is the main landlord, decided to allow the matter to stand over until the next meeting, the secretary, John D. McGrath, having reason to believe that the dispute is about to be settled. (From PPP).

Dec 22: “The Right Hon. Anne, Dowager Lady Rathdonnell, died at Drumcar House, in the county of Louth, on Dec. 22, in her eighty-second year. She was eldest daughter of the Rev. John Henry George Lefroy, M.A., of Ewsholt House, Hants” (Saturday 4 January 1890, Illustrated London News).

Dec 24: Parnell served with papers naming him as co-respondent in a divorce suit filed by Captain O'Shea.

Dec 25: Death of the Incredible Arthur MacMurrough Kanavagh, former MP for Carlow, of Borris House. Tom Rathdonnell later succeeeded him as the Queen's lieutenant for County Carlow. Not everyone mourned his passing according to The Irish World (18 Jan 1890) who wrote: 'Death of Mr. A. McMurrough Kavanagh. - The death of this widely-known gentleman recently took place at his residence in England. Deceased owned an extensive tract of land in Carlow County. He was a direct descendant of that King of Leinster who gave his daughter's hand in marriage to Strongbow, as recompense for his warlike assistance, which arrangement contributed to make Ireland a province instead of a nation. He represented Wexford in Parliament from 1866 to 1868, and Carlow from 1869 to 1880. Deceased was not remarkable for tenderness to his tenantry. The deceased was a mere trunk, being destitute of legs and arms.' I was surprised to read that he was 'not remarkable for tenderness to his tenantry' as I have elsewhere read he did much to improve conditions in houses on the Borris estate, building many new ones, and that he also built the beautiful viaduct outside Borris. Most of his obituaries simply repeated the same line: 'Mr Kavanagh was as remarkable sportsman as he was a politician, notwithstanding his physical deformities, commanding and navigating his own yacht and riding and shooting well. He was also a practical engineer and draughtsman.’ (eg Cheltenham Chronicle, 28 December 1889). The Thetford & Watton Times and People's Weekly Journal of 23 February 1889 described him as ‘a gentleman without arms or legs, head of the Irish landlords and founder of the Irish Land Corporation.’ However, there was a substantial piece on him in the Friends Intelligencer of 1867, page 142, and also in the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser (22 November 1866) which applauded him as a remarkable man.

Dec 27: The late Dowager Baroness Rathdonnell buried in the mausoleum at Drumcar.


Jan 4: Obituary to the Right Hon. Anne, Dowager Lady Rathdonnell of Drumcar, Co. Louth, appears in London Illustrated News. The same newspaper later lists 'Lady Rathdonnell of Drumcar, County Louth, and 80, Chester-square' among the wills proved, and values her personalty at £45,000.

Feb 1: Irish World publishes following: 'Rathvilly League. - Father Phelan presided at last meeting of above and amongst those present were: - Rev. Patrick Byrne, Mssrs. Michael Nolan, Edward Kelly, John Kehoe, Denis Deering, Treas.; M. P. Maher, Hon. Sec.; Michael Lawler, John Hayden, James Byrne, Michael Byrne, Patrick Dowling, Michael Barrett, Timothy O'Toole, James Kehoe, John Donnelly, John Brown, Michael Barry, Denis Doyle, Denis Lawler, Edward Nolan, Wm. Bolger, Matthew Tobin. A resolution of confidence in Mr. Parnell was passed. Wm. Salter, Ballybitt, was elected a member. The President announced that the Tenants' Defence Fund had reached £100.' (Thanks to Sue Clements)

From Carlow Nationalist 1890.
'At Bagenalstown court Mr Denis Robert Pack-Beresford recently obtained a decree for the possession of Mrs Anne Watters farm at Kilcloney, Borris. For the past 6 years Mrs Watters, a poor widow and her family have been resisting the attempts of the landlord to extort a hanging-gale that has been due from time immemorial. The costs heaped on the tenant during this struggle have been enormous. Mrs Watters has offered to pay the rent due minus these costs, but the landlord shows no disposition to come to a reasonable settlement.
From the time that Mr Beresford became the landlord, six years ago, he has sought to continue the policy of Lord Beresford of evicting Catholics from the land. The rents being paid on time and up to date he had no weapon to make his power be felt and to chastise a tenant but to fall back upon the "hanging-gale" which course of action would mean utter ruin in 19 out of every 20 cases on his estate. William Ward J.P. of Bagnalstown , one of our great peacemakers, frequently sought justice for the tenant but Mr Beresford defied his reasoning. Should the landlord proceed to extremes , the tenant and her family will have the sympathy and support of every honest man in County Carlow.
Following "hanging gale" Beresford's manoeuvres a Convention of the Irish National League was called and addressed by Father B. O' Neill. He stated that he knew the landlords of Carlow perhaps better than any other clergyman present, and he would say,: “For deeds that are dark, and for tricks that are mean, the landlords of Carlow are peculiar". He heard the name Beresford mentioned, (hisses ) well he knew Beresford and through persecution by the Beresfords the parish over which he ruled was reduced in population from 10,000 Catholics to a little over 5,000.
Where are all these men gone? Who put them out?
Charley Doyne -( pitchcap ) that's who a most unmitigated scoundrel (groans). He was the man who done the dirty work for Kavanagh and Beresford (groans). The people of Carlow are the most obedient, self-sacrificing people in Ireland but they are been bruised and trampled upon, and if a worm were trodden upon it would turn, and turn the people will (loud cheering and applause). Old Whitty, the parson, of Ballyoliver had told a Catholic asking for a Lease that he would not get it because he would vote against him. He (Father O'Neill) knew what happened to Tom Cloven when he went in with a half-years rent, he could give no more because his cattle were dying ... Beresford put him out (hisses). Bruen and Kavanagh misrepresented Carlow for 25 years, no doubt it was said that Carlow had a number of gentry of the bluest of blue blood ...Well we all know the origin of some of these blue-blood aristocrats (laughter).
Father Ryan , Dwyer Gray, A.M. Sullivan and himself (Father O'Neill) were to speak from a platform on a Saturday night in Borris but the whole platform was blown up , and there was no dynamite anywhere in the neighbourhood except what was in Mr Kavanagh's demesne. Self preservation was the first law of nature and he now proposed that they form a defensive combination of the Irish tenants and approve the objects and aims of the Irish Tenants' Defence Association. (cheers).
The meeting then concluded. (From the Pat Purcell Papers).

February 12 (Wed): Lord George Harris, a contemporary of Tom Rathdonnell from Eton days, was appointed Governor of Bombay. Indeed, in the 1890s all three of the Indian governors and two governors-general were Warre graduates. Harris was three years Tom's junior and the same age as Jack, being born in Trinidad in 1851. He was also an acclaimed cricketer. Both men were taught the sport at Eton by R. A. H. Mitchell and the Rev. G. R. Dupuis, obtaining their place in the Eton Eleven in 1868 and the two following years. To celebrate his appointment, 100 of his friends from Eton, Oxford and the political ring threw a dinner party at Café Monico in Piccadilly. Their old headmaster, Dr. Warre, presided over the occasion. Tom was present. There is a photo of a 'Lord Harris' in the McClintock 'Pearl Album' at Lisnavagh, who may be the same man.

image title

NB: Am unsure what date the above is.

February 13: Tom appointed Her Majesty's Lieutenant for Co. Carlow. The Times reports that the Lord Lt had had 'appointed Lord Rathdonnell to be Lieutenant and Custos Rotulorum of Co Carlow in place of the Rt Hon Arthur Kavanagh'.

Feb 17: 'There was a bumper meet at Mowsley [Leicestershire] on Monday, conspicuous in the crowd being Lord Rathdonnel, who a few years ago had his hunting quarters at Great Bowden. John Ball received the honour of a first call, the bitch pack soon testifying by a thrilling chorus that the place was occupied. There was a rare scent in covert, and pug was shortly under the necessity of changing his quarters. He went scudding across to Jane Ball, right through, and skirting Shearsby ran up to Little Pestling, hugging the road for a considerable distance, and eventually turning off for Willonghby. At this point in the run Lord Rathdonnel got a very nasty fall, but the hardy horseman was happily not long out of tfae saddle. The chase went on for Whetstone Gorse, when scent suddenly disappeared, and nothing more could be made out as to the whereabouts of the fugitive.' (Leicester Chronicle, 22 February 1890).

March 1: Irish World publishes this regarding Rathvilly, Ticknock, and Talbotstown Land League.- 'At last meeting in Rathvilly, Rev. J. Phelan, President, in the Chair. The following resolutions were unanimously adopted:- That this branch begs to place on record its profound regret at the removal from Rathvilly of an influential and practical official of our Executive Committee, Rev. Patrick Byrne, who is transferred to Rathangan, County Kildare. That John Kepple, Tobinstown, a Protestant Nationalist, be selected to represent the Williamstown electoral division of the Baltinglass Union, in the room of John Kehoe (Catholic), who contemplates resigning his seat. (Thanks to Sue Clements)

March 15: The Irish World reports: 'Walter Kavanagh has been appointed Poor Law Guardian to the Carlow Union in room of his father, the late Arthur Kavanagh. Capt. J.P. Lecky has also been appointed on the Board, in room of Mr. Beresford, High Sheriff.' (Thanks to Sue Clements)

March 19: The dismissal of Otto von Bismarck by Wilhelm II spells the beginning of the end for a stable Europe. The German Chancellor had excelled in bringing nations such as Russia and Italy into an alliance with Germany to keep France in check. 'Dropping the Pilot' duly appeared in Punch on 29 March; Lord Roseberry sent Bismarck a copy of the cartoon.

April 16: Nenagh Guardian (p. 3) states that Lord Rathdonnell's herd at drumcar to be sold in second week of October. This was later described as 'an important auction of pedigree cows, heifers and bulls from lord Rathdonnell's shorthorn herd'.

April 26: The Irish World reports: 'Coercion Act in Tullow.- James Aughney, Michael Brien, Michael Morrissey, Patrick McDonald, Joseph Aughney, John Farrell, Catherine Brien, Catherine Aughney, and John Mulhall were recently charged at Tullow Sessions with unlawfully assembling at Roscat and Wilfully obstructing John Stratford Berry, High Constable of the barony of Rathvilly, and his assistant while in the discharge of their duty- i.e. collecting the railway guarantee tax, which the people are resisting. The accused gave bail to appear when called upon.' (Thanks to Sue Clements)

May 3: The Irish World reports: 'Carlow Union Officers' Election.- The newly-elected Board assembled recently when the election of chairman took place. Sir Thomas Pierce Butler, the outgoing chairman, having been proposed for re-election. Patrick Houlon was nominated by the Nationalists, and a poll being taken Sir Thomas Butler was re-elected by twenty-nine votes to eleven. Right Hon. Henry Bruen and J.F. Lecky were re-elected respectively Vice-Chairman and Deputy Vice-Chairman. The Tory and landlord elements are still pretty strong on the Board.' (Thanks to Sue Clements)

May 10: The Irish World reports: 'Carlow and Ireland Races. - The sports were held recently at Ballynunnery Bridge. The day was one well suited for such a purpose, being fine and the air bracing. The attendance was very large and sport good. Three events filled the card, and each was well contested.' (Thanks to Sue Clements)

May 17: The Irish World reports: 'Railwaymen Strike in Carlow.- The men at Carlow Station recently went on strike for an increase of wages. As soon as the order to strike was telegraphed there was no hesitation in obeying, and the men left the stores and premises in orderly style. Trains arrived punctually, but without regular guards, and in charge of railway policemen. It is said the engine-drivers will not continue to work in the absence of the signal men and guards.' (Thanks to Sue Clements)

May 24: The Irish World reports: 'Carlow Union.- Sir Thomas Butler in the chair. Other Guardians present:- Messrs. Burgess, Nolan, Governey, Thomas, Lecky, Hammond, Hamilton, Maher, Hanlon, and Walker. The Local Government Board wrote stating that £156 6s. 11. was the sum to be assessed upon the Carlow Union for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of the Contagious Diseases Animals Act. If the police reports are to be believed an epidemic of madness in dogs prevails in County Carlow.' (Thanks to Sue Clements)

May 31: The Irish World reports: 'Temperance Cause in Carlow.- On a recent Sunday in the Cathedral, Carlow, a sight was witnessed which filled the hearts of local temperance men with joy. Four hundred men took the pledge from Rev. J. Byrne.'

June 7: The Irish World reports: 'Crops in Carlow.- There is a very appreciable dimunition in the area under barley this year, compared with last, but what is down looks very promising. A decided increase is visible in the oat crop, and corresponding falling off in the quantity of wheat sown. The area under potatoes is large and they are doing well.'

June 17 (Tues): The Duke of Portland presents Tom Rathdonnell to the the Prince of Wales at the annual Levee in St James's Palace.

June: Foundation stone to Memorial to the fallen of 1798 laid at Carlow-Graigue with the Arles Brass Band in action and a fiery anti-landlord "tobacco spits and cheers speech" by John Joseph Clancy, MP. For example: 'My friends was this a rising without a cause ? ( crowd-- no , no). They rose - those men of '98 - against the most diabolical oppression ever practised in any age in any country. Let me tell you what they rose against. They rose against the transportation of men without trial, they rose against the inclusion of torture in the manufacture of informers ; they rose against the burning of peasants' homes ; they rose against the brutal violation of the honour of the women of Ireland. What else did they rise against? Against the practice of singeing which consisted in pouring gunpowder on the hair of the head and lighting it with a match.' For all that, the Nationalist editorial of the day concluded as follows: "The most striking feature of the demonstration in Carlow on Sunday last was the order, sobriety, and good conduct of the people throughout the day. Although thousands of people took part in celebration there was not a single one arrested for drunkenness either by the Carlow or Graigue police". (From PPP)

June: The golden age of Irish tennis gets underway with Joshua Pim, Willoby Hamilton, Frank Stoker and Lena Rice reigning victorious at Wimbledon and Mabel Cahill of Ballyragget, Co. Kilkenny, defeating Teddy Roosevelt's cousin to win the US Open.

July 5 (Friday): Tom and Kate attend another State Ball at Buckingham.

August: At the Dublin Horse Show, Tom Rathdonnell is among those who greeted the vice-regal party of the Lord Lieutenant and his wife, the Countess of Zetland.

Nov 16: Birth in Friarstown of of Bridget ‘Brede’ Connolly, believed to be the only Carlow person in the GPO during the Easter Rising. Having delivered messages for James Connolly before and during the Rising, she remained a trusted activist through the Civil War. Although the family moved to Artane when she was a child, her parents were Peter Connolly and Elizabeth Gaynor, the daughter of a nearby farmer in Grange. Local tradition suggests they were evicted from Friarstown, but not by Rathdonnell’s I hasten to add! Bridget died unmarried in 1981 and was interred in the family plot in Grange cemetery.

November 17: As the cattle sales come to a close, so 41 cows (making an average of £23 9s 8d) and 9 bulls (averaging at £19 16s 8d) from the Drumcar shorthorn herd were brought under the hammer. Mr. R. Thompson paid 51 guineas for Lady Florrie, Lord Headfort paid 38g for Elfreda and Mr. A Bellingham paid 35g for the bull Pilgrim of Love.

December 6: 45 Nationalist MPs abandon Parnell, leaving him with just 28.

December: Frank DuBédat’s company, one of the oldest and most respected stock-broking firms in Dublin, was declared bankrupt. DuBédat swiftly withdrew £1,000 from his firm’s London agency and fled to South Africa. Investigations revealed he had debts of over £100,000.



In early 1891, Tom Rathdonnell aquired a large yacht called 'Thauma', taking its name from the Greek for 'magic'. Lloyd's Shipping Register of 1891 refers to this vessel as a 160.85 ton wooden schooner, measuring 98.7 long, 22.3 breadth and 12.3 deep. She was built by R & H Green of Blackwall, London, in 1850-1851 and belonged to Cowes. Originally called 'Surprise', it was owned by the Schenley family until 1873, after which it was owned variously by the Earl of Aylesford (1874), C.A.R. Hoare (1879) and Major J.W.G. Spicer (1880). Major Spicer, who coincidentally was a forbear of Emily Bunbury, the present mistress of Lisnavagh, sold the ship to Lord Rathdonnell in 1891. It is assumed that he was the man who changed the ship's name from 'Surprise' to 'Thauma' but why he did so is unknown. The vessel was last registered with Lloyd's Register of Yachts under the name 'Thauma', and under Tom's ownership, in 1897-98.

The first thing Tom did with 'Thauma' was to take her on a Mediterranean cruise in the spring of 1891. A large navy blue album at Lisnavagh entitled 'Thauma 1891' gives an insight into the voyage. It would seem that Tom and Kate were joined by one son - it looks like Billy - and their three daughters. One daughter poses with a guitar. Thauma herself is photographed on the water, perhaps outside the RMYC. The crew appear to number three bushy bearded officers and ten men (clad in close knit jumpers and peaky sailors caps imprinted with THAUMA - R.M.Y.C), plus three cooks. Once the cast has been photographed, the album begins amid the dusty cathedrals and royal Alcázar of Seville. They then voyage to Cordoba, arriving April 1st, where they watch matadors in action in a bull fight and, quite possibly, purchase the beautiful green-hued vegetable-tanned Cordoba leather which now adorns the fireplace in the Lisnavagh library. From there to Gibraltar, arriving April 8th, where they appear to have visited and possibly stayed at The Mount which, built in 1797, was the official residence of the senior officer of the Royal Navy in Gibraltar. Photographed here is a young woman called Elsie Buckle who may have been a kith or kin of one of the Gibraltar elite at this time. Onwards via the casbahs and camel tracks of Tangiers and Rabat before heading through the Gibraltar Straits via Malaga to the Alhambra in Granada and south again to the Moorish city of Oran on the north-western Mediterranean coast of Algeria. From here they journeyed south west to the more temperate climates of Tlemcen, explored the mosques of Mansourah and eyeballed the Atlas Mountains. As Thauma made her way east again along the African coast, Tom Rathdonnell must have thought of his father. Certainly as they approached the Bay of Algiers, he would have had cause to reflect upon the fact that, nearly 75 years earlier, his father saw his first action here as a sixteen-year-old when the Navy bombarded the city of Algiers in a bid to bring an end to the Algerian slave trade. The city would have a further connection to the family with the death of his wife Kate, Lady Rathdonnell, in Algiers in 1922. The Thauma party also seem to have made their way inland to the province of Kabylia and the mountain city of Tizi Ouzou which lies some 30km south of the coast and 100km east of Algiers. Three of the finest photographs in the Thauma album depict a man, a woman and a girl from Kabyle. The girl is making couscous outside a rudimentary shack somewhere between Tizi Ouzo and Fort National. Thauma made its way north across the Med to San Pedro del Pinatar and south again via Almeria, back through the Gibraltar Straits and home from here but appears to have also called in at Peel Castle on the Isle of Man before she finally docked.

As Robert Harbord, a descendant of the Schenley family has discovered: "Thauma was reported in Lloyd's Register of Yachting for 1899 to be "Now a trading vessel". She was under the new ownership of a Danish company based in Copenhagen. Her entry for 1903 had the fatal stamp "Wrecked 02 03" on her. In Lloyd's Register of Vessels Lost for that year she is reported to have been sailing from Bergen to Copenhagen with a cargo of fish on board and was lost at 'Vigso' on the 28th February 1903. According to a friend of mine, Norway was desperately poor at that time, under the yoke of Swedish domination, and in dire straits, so even 'exporting' just a small cargo of fish would have made a difference. This seems to be on the south side of the entrance to the Skagerrak. Very sad end to what must have been, in her salad days, a beautiful looking vessel."


Population of County Carlow: 40,936. One hundred years later, the population was up to 40,988.

February 11: Miss Grace Bruen, presented in the First Drawing Room at Dublin Castle by Lady Rathdonnell. Mrs Henry Bruen, presented by the Marchioness of Ormonde. (Irish Society (Dublin) - Saturday 14 February 1891)

March 31: Death of Granville George Leveson-Gower, 2nd Earl Granville, British statesman.

May: Denis Pack Beresford of Fenagh House engaged to marry Alice, only daughter of Mr James A, Lyle of Portstewart House, County Derry, and Glandore, County Antrim.

May 16: Death of Horace Rochfort (born 1809), founder of Carlow Rugby and Cricket Clubs.

June 15: Death of James Patrick Mahon, known as O' Gorman Mahon, nationalist and anti-Parnellite MP for Carlow since 1887. According to the Pat Purcell Papers of 1937, he was known as a "vulgar bully". ‘It was reported that on his death bed, 89 year old Mahon told a friend that he was sorry to see it reported in the newspapers that he had fought over 30 duels. ‘The number was thirteen", he said. ‘And only five of them died.’ (PPP)

June 25: Parnell married Kitty O'Shea.

July 4: Carlow election following the death in June of the Carlow MP O'Gorman Mahon. With thanks again to Michael Purcell for the following. This was one of the first elections held after the Parnell Split and had wide media coverage in Britain and Ireland. Parnell visited Carlow and travelled the county in support of his candidate, Andy Kettle, father of the eminent nationalist, poet and World War One hero Tom Kettle. It is thought that Parnell paid a visit to Rathvilly, where stones were fired in his direction. On July 4th, the Nationalist and Leinster Times recorded that Parnell had arrived at Carlow Railway Station "a weary and dejected-looking man, stooped and shrunken and was welcomed by a motley crowd of about a hundred. There was absolutely no enthusiasm, no sign of a welcome as a pitiful procession marched to Cullen's Hotel". Observers were disappointed when Parnell did not bring his new bride, Kitty O'Shea with him. The opponent to his candidate was John Hammond who was proposed by Michael Comerford, the coadjutor Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin. At a special meeting in Maynooth, the Roman Catholic Archbishops and Bishops of Ireland passed a resolution in which they stated - Mr Parnell by his public misconduct, has utterly disqualified himself to be a leader - he is wholly unworthy of the confidence of Catholics and we call on our people to repudiate his leadership". The election was held during the second week in July, John Hammond received 3,755 votes, Andy Kettle, 1,539. It was recorded that nearly 600 illiterate men voted with priests acting as "voting agents" and marking their voting papers for them.

August 5: Purchase of Land (Ireland) Act creates a Congested Districts Board empowered to purchase land and create viable holdings in the poorest areas in the western counties from Donegal to Cork, as well as a loan fund for tenants who wished to purchase their lands. Balfour raises another £33 million for land purchase, although the process was so complicated that many tenants were scared away from buying. The 1891 Act also introduced a new and ‘unpopular’ principal, stipulating that landlords be paid in land stock rather than cash; land stock was liable to fluctuate with the state of the market. As such, the amount advanced under this scheme over the 1890s only reached about £13½ million (of the £33M available) and approximately 47,000 people bought their land.The CDB initially focused on an area of 3 ½ million acres and a population of about half a million spread over parts of Counties Donegal, Leitrim, Roscommon, Sligo, Mayo, Galway, Kerry and Cork. The area was gradually extended; by 1910 it included swathes of County Tyrone and Fermanagh in Ulster.

August: Denis Pack-Beresford marries Alice Lyle in Bangor. The Rathdonnells do not seem to have attended but gave the couple two silver mounted liqueur decanters. Jack and Myra McClintock Bunbury presented them with a turquoise and diamond pin. Contact Turtle or Michael Purcell for full details of this wedding and the guests.

August: Francis Low’s 21st birthday party at Kilshane, Co. Tipperary. Among the guests at the garden party was Mrs Henry Bruen looked charming in a corduroy class costume of royal blue, with coque boa and hat to match. (Irish Society (Dublin) - 15 August 1891).

Sept 19: Tom Rathdonnell and party attend a polo match in Tiny Park, Carlow in which the 10th Hussars thrashed Carlow County by eleven goals to three. Alslo present on the field is Edward VII's young son, the Duke of Clarence; he died the following January 14 of influenza before marriage to Mary of Teck.

September 21: Death of General Sir John Bloomfield Gough, Colonel of the Royal Scots Greys.

Sept 27: Parnell makes his final public appearance speaking at Creggs, Co Galway in torrential rain. Already in poor health, the drenching rain effectively proved fatal; he died just over a week later.

October 6: Death of Parnell aged 45.

October 8: Freeman's Journal reports in its 'FASHION AND VARIETIES' column that ' Lady Rathdonnell arrived at Kingstown yesterday from England.'

Oct 28: Lord Rathdonnell of Lisnavagh holds his fourth annual auction of stock at Ballyoliver House, within half a mile of the GS&WR station in Rathvilly.

November: 'Hunt report: Palmam qui meruit ferat! All were pleased to see the brush given to the Hon. Mary McClintock Bunbury, Lord Rathdonnell's daughter, who displayed such skillful horsemanship, quickness, and general aptitude for the chase as is seldom witnessed in one so young.' (PPP)

December: The 24-year-old Mary of Teck (known as ‘May’) is betrothed to Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale, the eldest son of the Prince of Wales, prompting Kate Rathdonnell to launch a subscription campaign in Carlow to purchase her a present. Michael Purcell forwarded this extract from The Nationalist and Leinster Times.
2nd January 1892.
To the Editor of the Nationalist and Leinster Times.
Lisnavagh, Rathvilly, Co. Carlow.
December 30th, 1891.
Her Excellency the Countess of Zetland having asked me to undertake the task of collecting subscriptions in the County of Carlow, for the purpose of presenting a wedding gift from Ireland to His Royal Highness, the Duke of
Clarence on his marriage with Her Serene Highness Princess Victoria Mary of Teck, I would ask you to allow me to appeal through your columns to all classes in this county (men and women), who may be desirous of joining in
this movement to do honour to our future king and queen.
In order that it may be within the power of everyone to contribute, it has been decided that the amount of the subscriptions is to range from 1 penny to £2.
It is proposed that the present should consist mainly, if not entirely, of articles of Irish manufacture, and the shape that it will take will depend on the amount collected.
Subscriptions, which it is requested may be forwarded with as little delay as possible, can be sent to me, or will be received at the branches of the Bank of Ireland and National Bank in this county.
Trusting that I may be enabled to forward, as the contribution of Carlow, a sum worthy of our county,
I am, yours, etc., K.A. Rathdonnell.

Prince Albert Victor was also being lined up as a possible Viceroy of Ireland. However, six weeks after the announcement of his engagement, the Duke died unexpectedly during an influenza pandemic. He died at Sandringham House in Norfolk on 14 January 1892, less than a week after his 28th birthday. The following year she became engaged to Albert Victor's next surviving brother, George, who subsequently became King George V.

Carlow after Dark 1891.

The "small and early" given by Mrs Bagenal and Mrs J.O. Adair at Bennekerry on Friday developed into a large and late. Over a hundred guests responded and I hear of six o'clock as an hour at which not a few reached their virtuous couches. Bennekerry, which is particularly well suited to festivities of the kind, was prettily illuminated, house and gardens, with Japanese lanterns. Mrs Bagenal wore a white silk dress, and Mrs Adair appeared a pale blue silk. Amongst the many were Mr. and Mrs. Walter Kavanagh (she looking particularly well in blue and gold brocade); Mrs Browne-Clayton, who brought not only a bevy of girls, but a bundle of young men; Lady Butler, with her sons and daughters; Mrs Bruen, with three daughters and two sons; Colonel and Mrs. Fortescue Tynte and Miss Rochfort, Colonel and Mrs. Howard-Brooke, Captain Hall and Mr Hooper. The last three (sic) gentlemen came over from Wicklow, where they are under canvas. Mrs. J. Westropp Dawson wore a beautiful white satin, deified with pale green. Much disappointment was felt at the non-appearance of the bride, Mrs. Pack-Beresford, who is suffering from a chill. Mrs Hall-Dare, looking less like a grandmother than ever, danced the Kitchen-Lancers with her son-in-law, being well supported by her daughter, in white. (From the Thorpe scrapbook in the PPP).


The Lisnavagh Archives contain a letter from 1891 written to Lord Rathdonnell from F. Lowry Lightfoot, Old Palace Yard, Westminster, about the wording of an advertisement for the sale of Lisnavagh by private treaty (6,600 acres, of which 1,200 are demesne, a stone-built mansion which with all the offices and out-buildings are of modern construction and in perfect order, proximity to Dublin, etc, etc). Why were they trying to sell it? Could it be that they were seeking a valuation for some other reason, such as a property tax and putting it on the market was a way of getting a valuation? Or maybe they could see what was coming and were considering Drumcar as the main base rather than Lisnavagh? In 1891, Louth was probably quite an attractive place to live for a Unionist like Tom Rathdonnell, not too far from his mother's home turf in Armagh and all his other northern friends. But perhaps the fact his wife hailed from Carlow swung him back south ... I presume that in 1900 the plan was for young Billy to inherit one house (Lisnavagh?) and young Tim to inherit the other, but who on earth knows! That is the joy of history - unraveling the jigsaw and shouting 'Eurkea!' when a piece fits.

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Above: Tom's second daughter Mary,
known as Mimi, in later life. In November
1898, she married Henry Duncombe Bramwell.


10,000 Irish women signed a petition demanding entry to Trinity Colle Dublin. Trinity became the first of the historic universities of Britain and Ireland to admit women to degrees in 1904. By 2018, 60 per cent of the student body was female, and many senior positions were held by women, including the Chancellor.

January 14: Death of Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale, the eldest son of the Prince of Wales, while Kate Rathdonnell was raising funds for a wedding present for his upcoming marriage to Mary of Teck. The young duke had played polo in Carlow the previous autumn.

February 4 (Thurs): The Landowner's Convention held their annual meeting in the Leinster Lecture Hall on Molesworth Street, the Duke of Abercorn presiding. TK was in attendance along with Lords Castltown, Cloncurry, Langford and Dunalley, Sir Thomas Butler, the O'Connor Don and the Earl of Rosse. The Duke of Clarence had just died and there was an epidemic of influenza across the land. Abercorn called the Land Purchase Act of the previous session "undoubtedly one of the most far-reaching and liberal measures of land reform that have ever been carried out by any Government in this or any other country". When he mentioned certain names, the crowd booed that of Parnell and hissed at Redmond.

Feb 10: "Lord Rathdonnell has much pleasure in stating that Mr Burrows of Douglas, Isle of Man, has cleaned and renovated several old oil paintings for him at Lisnavagh, entirely to his satisfaction. Mr Burrows has also repaired and re-guilded several of the frames in a most satisfactory manner, and he he will be glad to recommend him as an efficient pain-taking picture cleaner.— Rathdonnell." (Isle of Man Times, Wednesday 10 February 1892).

Feb 20: Oscar Wilde stages first perfomance of Lady Windermere's Fan at St James's Theatre, London. The young McClintock Bunbury girls must have related to the story, not least when Agatha is courted by a rich Australian in one of the last balls of the season. As her aunt, the Duchess of Berwick, remarks: 'Love—well, not love at first sight, but love at the end of the season, which is so much more satisfactory.'

February 26 (Friday): On his 18th wedding anniversary, Tom resigns his commission as a Captain in Prince Albert's Own Leicestershire Yeomanry Cavalry.

March 23: 'Lord Rathdonnell has much pleasure in stating that Mr Burrows of Douglas, Isle of Man, has cleaned and renovated several old oil paintings for him at lisnavagh, entirely to his satisfaction. Mr Burrows has also repaired and re-guilded several of the ...' (Posted in Isle of Man Times, 23 March 1892, and other papers. See British News Archives for more).

April: Young Billy follows his fathers footsteps into Eton, and is placed in Mr. Donaldson’s House.

It is believed the grand piano at Lisnavagh House was constructed in 1892.

April 30: Michael Purcell records how John Byrne from Tinryland, Carlow, writes to the Carlow Vindicator to complain of the taking of his farm by "Hanging-Gale Beresford". John and his sister had only been evicted when the homeplace and all his improvements and those of his forefathers, were taken over by a man described by John as a "landgrabber" without a penny compensation, and the time selected for the eviction was during "Holy Week" ((From PPP)
Carlow Vindicator.
Letter to the Editor.
Tinryland, April 30th, 1892.
Dear Sir, --I wish through the medium of your journal to expose a case of the most barefaced landgrabbing , which I am sure will meet with the condemnation it deserves from all honest men. I was evicted from my home , which was in the possession of my family for generations, by my landlord . Mr Denis.R. Beresford, for non-payment of a rent which must be admitted to was exorbitant even by his own valuer. He scarcely allowed the clay to settle over his mother's grave when he called in the services of Messrs Moore, Mack and Ryan and Watters (the latter acting as emergency man), and turned myself and my sister out on the road on a cold February morning.
We were not well out when J---?----( name published in report but not in transcript) comes and takes possession of all my improvements and those of my forefathers, without one penny compensation to me --the time selected by this pious Catholic for doing so being Holy Week. The rent of the farm (if you can call it such ) is £12 yearly, the area six acres, including a road all around it about thirty perches. This , with waste of rocks, leaves about five acres tillage land. So you see it was the house and premises built by my predecessors, without one penny from the landlord, and on which I expended during the last ten years over£100, which were coveted.
I remain yours, John Byrne.

May: The Carlow Vindicator, Ball at The Military Barracks, Carlow. Colonel Butler and the officers of the 8th Battilion King's Royal Rifles gave a most enjoyable ball in the Military Barracks, Carlow, on Tuesday night. The attendance was large and thoroughly representative of the local gentry. The music was supplied by Mr. Mervyn Browne ; while the catering was entrusted to Mr. Blunt, who has for the last three years given unbounded satisfaction to the regiment. Appended is a list of the officers and guests : Col. Sir Thomas Butler, Bart.; Mr. R. Butler, Mr. C.R. Butler and the Misses Butler; Col. E.H. Butler, Mr and Mrs Browne-Clayton and the Misses Browne-Clayton ; Capt. Lord W. Fitzgerald, Mrs Grogan, Major Alexander, Mr. Godwyn B. Swifte, Mr amd Mrs O' Callaghan, Miss Bolton, Mr and Mrs Joy, Miss Watson, Miss Eustace and Miss G. Eustace, Mr T. Alexander, Mr and Mrs Black, Mrs Bagenal, the Misses Newton, Mr H. Crane, Mr and Miss McMahon, Captain P.C. Newton, Mr. H. Keogh, Mrs and the Misses Keogh, Mrs Annesley, Mr. Perry, Major Doyne, the Misses Milner, Mrs C. Duckett; Major J.J. H. Eustace, Capt. G.W. L'Estrange, Capt. J.K. Milner, Capt. C. Duckett, Lieut. W.T. Richardson, Second-Lieut J.H. Grogan, Capt. and Adjutant H.E.Maxwell, Surgeon Lieut.-Col. E.A.Rawson, Lieut. G.R.Shine, Lieut. N.A.Delacherois-Crommelin, Lieut. J.W.Stopford, Second Lieut. D.St. P. Bunbury. [Not sure who D. St. P[ierre] Bunbury is yet, but notable that the Rathdonnells and their ilk are not present. Thanks again to Michael Purcell and his team].

June 11: Canon Richard Bagot sells his 6HP threshing machine, known as the Farmer's Friend, in an auction at Athy Station. Lord Rathdonnell, a colleague of Canon Bagot from the RDS, may have been the buyer and here's why. The cattle market was in tatters by 1892. Prices for pedigree shorthorns had fallen to their lowest levels in twenty years with the average falling to £24 (as compared with £45 in Anchor's hey-day). Only the Queen's herd managed to fetch decent prices. Tom Rathdonnell was specifically mentioned in The Times end of year report for 1892, alongside the Earl of Derby, as being "among those whose sales were affected by the badness of the times". This might explain why Tom turned his focus to steam engines. Or, at least, he may have acquired one of a handful of very early Victorian steam engines which would have put the Lisnavagh estate at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution in Ireland. This was a 6-horse power traction engine manufactured by Henry Marshall & Sons at the Britannia Iron Works, Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, which was founded in 1848 and became one of the world’s biggest agricultural machinery manufacturers. Such machines were very rare in Ireland at this time and this one was originally purchased for Canon Richard Bagot of (now gone) Fonstown Glebe, near Athy, Co. Kildare, by Gerald Fitzgerald, 5th Duke of Leinster, who died in 1893. Both Canon Bagot and the Duke had a deep interest in promoting agricultural development. Canon Bagot certainly pinned much of the blame for the Great Famine on the lack of diversity and agricultural education in Ireland while he established a model farm of his own at Fonstown and became heavily involved in both the creamery and cooperative movements, alongside Horace Plunkett. The duke seems to have bought the engine on 6 August 1889 for a couple of hundred pounds which was the equivalent of two farms at that time. There is then a gap in knowledge as to who owned it following Canon Bagot’s death. The next record is from 1936 when it was registered to the Duff brothers, Andy and Jay, who lived at Ballydrummond, near Donard, County Wicklow. In June 2017 I spoke with Willie Rochford, its present owner, who told me that Colm Jackson of Baltinglass had spoken with his grandfather Tom Jackson, who once worked for the Duffs, and that Tom insisted the Duff brothers acquired the steam engine from the Lisnavagh estate. Tom Rathdonnell was certainly a likely candidate to have bought such a cutting edge threshing machine, being the sort of progressive man who would have been interested in the move from horsepower to steam-power. He may also have been sufficiently on the ball to off-load the steam engine in the 1920s when the combustion engines manufactured by Fordson were becoming de rigeur. I have not been able to find any further details in a superficial hunt through the Lisnavagh archives and would also suggest looking through the Irish News Archive. Willie Rochford had lately purchased an Edwardian engine from Curraghmore which he had presented to the Johnstown Agricultural Museum.
In April 2020, I was emailed by John Glynn who thought that one of the Lords Rathdonnell had owned his 1920 Marshall Traction Engine (IC 1603), which was made in Gainsborough. The steam engine, painted Berkeley maroon, was sold to Thomas Codd of Rathvaren on 10 April 1920 but when he was apparently unable to meet the repayments, Rathdonnell intervened and purchased it, possibly on behalf of a man by the name of George Giltrap who is thought to have drove and worked it in Lisnavagh. George is also said to have hauled timber with it from Thomas Butler's Ballintemple estate in Ardattin. Census records show that George was a forester, married to Henrietta Tomkins. George came from a farming background but his sister ended up with the farm and he married and lived near Ardattin, before moving over near Lisnaveagh.

June 29: On the eve of Derby Day, hunting circles were shocked by the sudden death of Henry Moore, 3rd Marquis of Drogheda, of Moore Abbey, Monasterevin, Co. Kildare. He was Senior Steward of both the Turf Club and the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee, as well as Ranger of the Curragh. . His death, on June 29, was deeply lamented and deemed a great loss for the Irish Turf. Drogheda Memorial Hospital founded to his memory.

June: Ulster Unionists hold a huge convention in Belfast at which they solemnly swear that "We will not have Home Rule".

July 29: A brass alms dish in Drumcar Church bore the inscription, ‘Presented by Isabella, Mary and Pauline McClintock-Bunbury for the Service of God and in memory of their Confirmation, July 29th, 1892." (James B Leslie, 'Armagh clergy and parishes')

Summer: A year before Gladstone's second Home Rule Bill is rejected by the House of Lords, Tom attends another huge Unionist convention in Dublin. The delegates filled two halls and included the chairman Lord Fingall, the Duke of Leinster and Lords Mayo, Dunsany, Emly, Ventry, Massy and Cloncurry as well as Colonel Cosby of Stradbally, Colonel Dease, Walter MacMurrough Kavanagh (son of the limbless Art) and Major Barton of Straffan. Their wives sat in the balcony lending "a pleasing grace to the proceedings [and] took a lively interest in all that went on". Before the speeches,a n orchestra played a number of pieces, capped by "God Bless the Prince of Wales" and "Rule Brittania". "The enthusiasm was simply unbounded when the strains of the National Anthem fell on the ear".

August 16: The death took place at Lisnavagh of George Augustus Chichester May (1815-1892), the former Chief Justice of Ireland who stepped down at the height of the Parnell controversy in 1880. Known as "The Chief" amongst his own family, his departure from the post was a matter of considerable drama at the time. I do not yet know why he was at Lisnavagh. It is possible that he was renting the property.

August 16: National Literary Society founded.

August: LANDLORDISM NEAR BORRIS: On Tuesday last (2nd August ) a widow, Mrs Anne Waters, at the age of 81 years with her family, were thrown out upon the roadside by her landlord, Mr Denis Pack-Beresford. Now deprived, not only of her home, but also of the resources of livelihood which she hoped to bequeath to her children. It will be remembered that so far back as August 1891 the tenant paid the entire amount due, viz., two years' rent including hanging-gale, and full legal costs, but as the period for redemption had expired a cheque for the amount is now held by Pack-Beresford's agent. So the poor tenant is now in the position of having parted with home and money. Mr Pack-Beresford so far has both, and it will be interesting to watch what he will do with poor Mrs Waters farm.
The case is one eminently deserving of close public attention. The circumstances of the case reveal an arbitrariness that recall the by-gone days when the landlord could do what he liked. For the past six years Mrs Waters has been harassed by unreasonable rent exaction, and mulcted in law costs. The rent and heavy legal costs was long since paid to the agent, Mr Charles Thorpe who then wanted the tenant to enter an agreement containing unjust conditions.
Last week, Mrs Waters, with her family, was thrown out upon the roadside and their house handed over to the tender mercies of the sheriff and the emergencymen, (crow-bar brigade), at least one of whom wore a revolver, they have now barricaded the premises as if they feared an armed invasion to recapture it.
Mr. Pack-Beresford will find that all Nationalists will combine, and that Landlordism in its old form must not be revived in this country, and that respectable tenants, who are willing to pay their just obligations shall not be turned from their homes in order to satisfy a vindictive and despotic landlord. The employees of Mr Pack-Beresford have been engaged during the past week in Carting over to Fenagh House the produce of Mrs Waters land, and some of the crops (including a heap of coal) have been stored at Pack-Beresford's farm. The greedy landlord's serfs with six horses and the necessary implements entered the Waters farm and without either care or consideration for the condition of the grain the whole corn crop was cut down and is left melting on the ground from that day to this. It is stated that portion of the work was personally superintended by Mr Denis Pack-Beresford.
Other items removed by the emergencymen were; farm carts, tools, two ricks of hay, implements, a donkey croydon, presses, furniture, utensils and sundry articles. The root and vegetable crops are likewise claimed by Mr Pack-Beresford and are specially guarded, the poor tenant today not knowing the luxury even of a potato from her own garden.
(From the scrapbook of Landlord Agent, Mr Charles Thorpe, in the PPP.)

Aug 27: George's Street Arcade (aka South City Markets) suffers a massive fire. Thomas Purcell's firemen save what they can, including the bonded stores of Powers whiskey, but "the woodwork of the markets offered an easy prey to the fire.”

Aug 27: 'Lord Rathdonnell will hunt with the Louth Hounds next season from Drumcar, his seat in that county.' (Sporting Gazette , Saturday 27 August 1892 )

September 30: Death of James Smith at Little Moyle, aged 84. He may have been Colonel Kane Bunbury's illegitimate son. He was buried at Kellistown but neither Jack Bunbury nor Tom Rathdonnell attended his funeral. Is it curious that Jack Bunbury's son Geoffrey - also of Moyle - died less than four days later?

October 2: Death of Tom Rathdonnell's nephew and Jack Bunbury's only son Geoffrey McClintock Bunbury aged 9. He was buried at Tarporley in Cheshire.

October 1892.
Carlow Union Workhouse. The quantity of intoxication liquor bought in seems average. The daily average number of paupers in the house is 414 and the amount of spirits, wine and malt liquors consumed in the workhouse during the year 1891, :----
SPIRTS, 1079 pints 5 ozs.
WINE, 4 pints 5 ozs.
MALT LIQUORS, 538 gallons;
[Michael Purcell suggests it was around this time that several workhouse employees were fired for drunkenness].

Carlow Sentinel, Oct. 1892. (From PPP)
D'ISRAELI SCHOOL. Rathvilly, County Carlow.
Principal -----James C. Long. Certificated Science and Art , London: Ex. Sch. Incor. Society: Late Assistant Master Bandon Grammar School.
School Re-opened.
Preparation for Intermediate, Banks, Civil Service, and Commerical Examinations.
Special attention given to young and backward pupils. The School stands on five acres in a healthy locality.
For terms apply to the Principal.
[James Long presumably succeeded James Earl who died in 1890]

image title

Above: Taken by photographers James Russell and Sons (est. 1852) who were based on Baker
Street since 1889. This was once thought to be the 3rd Baron but it is now thought to have been
taken between 1893 and 1898 and is thus, in fact, the 2nd Baron Rathdonnell.



The catastrophic fall and death of Parnell in 1891, the unsurprising defeat of Gladstone’s second Home Rule bill in 1893, and Gladstone’s retirement left the Home Rule campaign dead in the water. The Liberal party, completely divided, tumbled out of office in 1895. For the next 10 years, Britain and Ireland were ruled by an alliance of Conservatives and Liberal Unionists with free rein to do as they wanted. Irish opposition was hopelessly and bitterly divided between three groups, namely those loyal to John Redmond (Parnell’s heir), Justin McCarthy (replaced from 1896 by John Dillon) and Tim Healy.

Tom Rathdonnell appears to have hosted the last bona fide point-to-point in Ireland in 1893, with a man who may have been his son-in-law winning it. 'As the name implies, a point to point is a steeplechase to a distant point and back again, so only the start and finish could be seen by the assembled spectators. Apart from the present impracticability of having such a bona fide "point", the local visitors out for a holiday want to see something of the races. The last bona fide point-to-point was held by the 15th Hussars in Co. Louth in 1893. The course began on a hill near Drumcar village, round Wheelabout covert, and back again. Mr. Dalgety's Jehu, ridden by the owner, beat Capt. Meyrick's mount, May Dream, by a length, with Capt. Mundy's Game Boy third, and Capt De Crespigny's Sapolio fourth of fifteen starters. The course had no flags to indicate direction to the riders, certainly a great test of the abilities of horse and rider'. (Irish Independent, April 22, 1913, p. 4).

1893 Jan (7-12): An ailing Lord Randolph spent a week at Adare Manor in January 1893 when his fellow guests included the Dukes of Ormonde and St Alban’s, Lord and Lady Ranfurly and General Lord Wolseley. The band of the Black Watch played at a ball that week while guests dined in the Gallery and later danced in the Drawing Room and adjacent rooms. Also in attendance at the 1893 ball were Constance and Eva Gore-Booth, cousins of the family, whose father also enjoyed exploring the Americas. Later known as Countess Markievicz, Constance was one of the most active players in the Irish Revolution from 1908 until her death in 1927.

January 27 (Friday): The Irish Unionists hold a banquet for 400 in the Round Room at the Rotunda, principally to celebrate all those who had won seats back from the Home Rulers in the election. A string bad is stationed in the gallery which was reserved for the ladies. Once again lengthy speeches were given stating the case of Unionism.

Feb 1: Lady Rathdonnell and her daughter Isabel s attend the Kildare Hunt Ball in Naas.

Feb 21: Death of Tom's aunt Anne Tighe (nee McClintock), wife of the Dean of Derry.

March 15: 'IMPORTANT MEETING OF CARLOW UNIONISTS. LOYAL AND PATRIOTIC SPEECHES AND RESOLUTIONS. On Wednesday a meeting of the Unionists of Carlow- county and town - was held in the large Club Room, having been convened by the Right Hon Lord Rathdonnell, HML, for the purpose of protesting against the Home Rule Bill now before Parliment. The meeting was numerously and influentially attended, the large corridor, and gallery being all crowded to inconvenience. The assemblage was thoroughly representatise of all classes of Loyalists in the county, front the labourer to its Lord Lieutenant, but especially the tenant farmers, who attended inlarge numbers. It was also graced by the presence of a number of Ladies, representing the county families, who manifested a warminterest in the porceedings. It is scarcely necessary to add that the utmost harmony and unity prevailed during the three hours occupied by the meeting.’ Carlow Sentinel - Saturday 18 March 1893. (George Giltrap among the attendees. Lady Rathdonnell was not.)

March: 'Among the Irish presentations at the late Drawing-room held by the Queen was Mrs Walker, wife of our Lord Chancellor (who was present himself), Mrs Clifford Cory (Miss Lethbridge), presented by her sister, Lady Carew, the Hon. Theresa Wentworth-Fitzwilham, by her grandmother, Countess Fitzwilliam, and the Hon. Isabella M'Clintock, Bunbury, by her mother, Lady Rathdonnell.' Irish Society (Dublin), 25 March 1893.

May 22: Lord Salisbury makes his first visit to Ulster. Tom takes a train from Belfast to Larne to be part of the crowd welcoming him and the Marchioness off the "Princess Victoria". On the train with him were the Earl of Kingston and four directors of the Belfast & Northern Counties Railway Company (Edmund McNeill, H. McNeile, RH Reade and James Wilson). And Tom was right up there on the platform of Union Hall when the former Prime Minister addressed a huge crowd of Union Jack waving Ulster Unionists two days later.

June 14-16 and 19: The considerable £5,000 marriage settlement made on Anne, Lady Rathdonnell (nee Lefroy) at the time of her 1829 marriage to Tom Rathdonnell’s uncle John McClintock (later Lord Rathdonnell) comes before the Queen’s Bench when Her Majesty’s Attorney General, informant, took on Lord Rathdonnell and the Rev. T. C. Seymour, defendants. This is a long and convoluted trial and I am open to being corrected here but the bones of it is that Tom claimed a sum of £4000 following the death of his aunt, the late Baroness Rathdonnell, on 22nd December 1889. It would seem the Revenue were seeking estate duty and stamp duty from the settlement and alleged that Tom Rathdonnell was basically tax dodging contrary to the terms of the 1881 Customs Act. However, Palles CB held in Tom’s favour and reckoned he should not to have to pay any duty on the settlement. Tom Rathdonnell was represented by S.S. & E. Reeves & Sons, solicitors. [For full details of this case, contact me or see Q.B. & Ex. Divisions. Vol. XXX11, p. 575, AG v. Rathdonnell. With thanks to Nicholas McNicholas].

July 10 (Monday): The Rathdonnells attended the Prince of Wales's State Ball at Buckingham. Herr Gottleib's Vienna Orchestra provided the tunes.

July 24: 'Lady Rathdonnell gave a very successful "At Home" at 9 Queen street, Mayfair, on Monday afternoon last. Count Vinci contributed some violin solos, and Miss Wardell sang delightfully. Lady Rathdonnell, who as usual made an ideal hostess, was looking extremely well in a gown of striped pink silk. She purposes returning to Ireland shortly.’ Irish Society (Dublin), Saturday 29 July 1893.

Sept 2: Second Home Rule Bill passed by House of Commons.

September 8 (Friday): Tom Rathdonnell is part of the well-heeled deputation of Irish peers who presented Lord Salisbury with a handsomely bound album by way of a thanks for his party at Hatfield House earlier in the week. The presentation took place in Salisbury's private room in the House of Lords.

Sept 9: House of Lords rejects Second Home Rule Bill. This was the second attempt made by Gladstone, defeated a dozen years after his Land Act of 1881.

October 7-13: The 4th Earl of Dunraven comes close to winning the America’s Cup with Valkyrie II, a gaff-rigged cutter built on the River Clyde in Scotland, but was beaten by the defending champion, Vigilant, by forty seconds.

October 14: Death of Tom Rathdonnell's only brother, Jack McClintock Bunbury, aged 41. In June 2017 I found this report from the Grantham Journal of Saturday 21 October 1893. "Sudden Death.—Great consternation prevailed in the village [of Somerby] on Saturday last, when it became knownthat J. W. McClintock Bunbury, Esq., had died somewhat suddenly. The gentleman and Mrs. Bunbury came to reside at Rose Cottage last summer, and it was their intention to remain here through the hunting season. Mr. Bunbury had recently suffered from an affection of the heart, for which he had been medically treated. Recently, however, he enjoyed fairly good health. On Saturday, there was no reason to apprehend anything serious, until the afternoon, when he suddenly became ill. Unfortunately, Mr. Jackson, the resident medical practitioner, was away from home on County Council business, but telegrams were despatched to Oakham and Melton for medical aid. Dr. Keal, of Oakham, was the first to arrive, but too late to be of any service, for death had already taken place. Drs. Powell and Willan also responded to the Melton telegrams. As already stated, the deceased gentleman had suffered from heart disease, and the examination made by Dr. Keal pointed in that direction. Much sympathy is felt for the young widow. The funeral of the deceased gentleman took place on Tuesday last, in Tarporley churchyard, Cheshire, the remains having been conveyed by train,and although Tarporley was not reached until six o'clock, the interment took place the same evening. The grave was beautifully lined with moss and whiteflowers. The mourners were Mrs. Bunbury (widow), Lord and Lady Rathdonnell, and Miss Watson. The coffin, which was of polished oak, with massive brass furniture, bore on the breastplate the inscription, "John William McClintock Bunbury, died October14th, 1893, aged 41." Among the wreaths was a magnificent one sent by Lady Chomondeley. The arrangements for the funeral were carried out Messrs Furley and Hassan, of Oakham."

image title

October 30: Sixth annual auction of Lord Rathdonnell's cattle, sheep and horses at Ballyoliver House.

December 1: Death at Carton of Gerald FitzGerlad, 5th Duke of Leinster, aged 43. Born in 1851, he was an exact contemporary of Jack Bunbury who died six weeks earlier. What did he die of? Are their deaths related?

December 5: 'The death is announced of Professor John Tyndall LL.D., aged 73. Born in Carlow, Ireland, and educated in a State school, Tyndall was first employed as an assistant engineer. In 1847 he became a teacher in a Hampshire Technical College, and having studied chemistry he went to Germany, where he prosecuted his re searches under Magnus. He was made an F.R.S. in 1852, and in 1853 was appointed Professor of Natural Philosophy at the Royal Institution, a position he held till a year or two ago. In 1866 he relieved Faraday at Trinity House. He visited America in 1872 on a lecturing tour, and devoted the proceeds, 23,000 dollars, to the endowment of scientific scholarships in Harvard and Columbia colleges. He wrote voluminously on heat, light, electricity, and kindred subjects, and in 1874 delivered the famous Belfast address ay president of the British Association.' The Advertiser (Adelaide, South Australia, Wednesday 6 December 1893, p. 5.

December 7: Lord Rathdonnell 'noticed' among those out when the Louth Hounds met at Duleek. (The Social Review, 16 Dec 1893).

Tom Rathdonnell becomes member of the Council of the Royal Dublin Society.

image title

Above: In 1894, Tom's
eldest daughter
Isabella was
married in
Drumcar to a
young soldier
called Forrester
Colvin, who later
served with her
brother Billy in
the Boer War.


Feb 5: 'A most successful subscription ball was held in the Whitworth Hall, Drogheda, on February 5th, under the patronage of Lady Henrietta Gradwell, Lady Rathdonnell, Hon. Mrs. Bellew, Mrs. Blacker Douglas, Mrs. Osborne, Mrs. Pentland, Mrs. Woods, Mrs. Boylan, Mrs. Tunstall Moore, and Mrs. W. Cairnes ; while Mr. Cary, R.I.R., made a most efficient hon. sec. The ballroom was beautifully decorated, and the music was supplied by the string band of the Royal Irish Rifles. The numerous pink coats worn by the gentlemen gave an additional touch of colour, and added much to the brilliancy of the scene. Among those present were :—Lord and Lady Rathdonnell, the Hon. Isabel M'Clintock Bunbury and the Hon. Mary M'Clintock Bunbury, Hon. Mr. and Mrs. Bellew, Mr. and Lady Henrietta Gradwell, Lady Mary Murphy, Sir A. Vere Foster, Mr. and Mrs. Blacker Douglas and party, Mr. and Mrs. Woods, Major Woods, R.H.A. ; Miss Carden, Miss E. Carden, Capt. Mater, Mr. Everard, Mr. and Mrs. Tunstall Moore' &c. (The Social Review, 17 February 1894)

February 14: One week after Jack Bunbury's will was proved by the Probate Division of the High Court, Tom and his co-executor Edmond Venables issue a statement to The Times in which, acknowledging Jack's death and invite anyone to whom Jack still owed money to write the particulars of their claim and send them to the executors before 2nd April 1894. Thereafter, Jack's possessions and assets would be distributed in accordance with his will.

April 2: Deadline for anyone seeking to make claims on Jack's will.

April 4: Balfour in Belfast, watches march of 100,000 loyalists.

May 13: Death of Kate's mother, Mary Margaret Bruen (nee Conolly).

May 26: Garnet Wolseley, 1st Viscount Wolseley, becomes a field marshal.

June 31 (Fri): Tom shelled out a substantial price of 105 guineas for a shorthorn cow called Bliss, formerly belonging to the late Hugh Aylmer's herd at the Manor House in West Derenham, Norfolk. Three days later he was back in London for the annual State Ball, no doubt bragging about his new purchase. When the 86 year old Alexander Mitchell (the judge at Kilburn when Anchor won) died that same year, Tom was among those who went up to look at the famous Alloa shorthorn herd in Clackmannanshire, Scotland and purchased some more cows and possibly a bull. The average price was £35 indicating a relative return to normality for the cattle market, although the Alloa herd was particularly well prized.

July 5: Valkyrie II sunk by accident during the Mud Hook Regatta in Scotland; Lord Dunraven was rescued, along with his crew and guests, but one severely injured crewman later died. His diary and many other papers were also lost when the yacht sank.

image title

Above: The dresses worn by Kate Rathdonnell and her eldest daughet Isabella at the latter's
wedding to Forrester Colvin in 1894.

July 26: Tom and Kate Rathdonnells' eldest daughter Isabella marries Lt Col Forrester Farnell Colvin, CBE, 9th Lancers, of Shermanbury Grange, Horsham, Sussex. At the time of the wedding he was a Captain in the 9th Lancers. The ceremony took place in the Parish Church of Drumcar, according to the Marriage Register (1845-1954) Ref No. P972.3.1, which has now been deposited with the RCB Library in Braemor Park.

Aug (early): 'Lord and Lady Rathdonnell and party (8)’, named alongside the newly-wed 'Honourable Mrs. Forrester Colvin, Captain Forrester Colvin’, among visitors who stayed at the Mourne Hotel, Rostrevor, the previous week. (The Social Review, 11 August 1894)

Aug 25: Coercion Act repealed.

August 27: Death of Canon Richard Bagot of Fontstown, a pioneer of butter-making and coopoerative farming, and a long-standing RDS member.

Sept 2: Gladstone's second Home Rule bill passes House of Commons.

Sept 8: House of Lords reject Home Rule, leading to Gladstone's retirement from politics.

October 16: Marriage of Kate Rathdonnell's second sister Elizabeth Bruen to Edward Ussher Roberts of Gaultier, Woodstown, Co. Waterford, only son of Arthur Ussher Roberts.

October 24 (Wed): John Thornton & Co. hosted a sale at Drumcar, cataloguing five bulls and 32 cows and heifers. The herd was originally established at Lisnavagh and bred from the excellent stock which Lord Fitzwilliam held at Coolattin and tracing directly to the Mason blood "which so greatly improved the stock of Ireland about half a century ago". The herd had been so prolific at Drumcar that "it has quite outgrown the winter accommodation and hence the sale". Curiously the best price he got at the sale was from Lord Fitzwilliam himself - £35 for a cow called Golden Secret. He sold another cow, Flower Blossom, to E. Jones for 35g and another, Ocean Gun, to Mr. Doyne for 34g. I presume he sold the rest for lower prices?



In 2011, Richard Corrigan presented me with a marriage certificate from November 20th 1894. Thomas Bloomer, a gardener from Lisnavagh, Rathvilly, Co. Carlow, was married in the parish church in Rathvilly to Ellen Pigott. The witnesses were Robert Pigott and Richard Bloomer.[i]

Ellen Bloomer, who was born on 20 January 1871, was a daughter (and probably the 6th child) of William Pigott (1816-1877), farmer, of Maplestown, County Carlow, and his wife Elizabeth 'Bessie' Brown (1828-1915). To go back a generation, William was a son of John Pigott of Maplestown while Bessie was a daughter of John Brown of Maplestown. William and Bessie were married in Rathvilly on 18th September 1847.

The following year, Richard Bloomer, land steward at Lisnavagh, was married in the same church to Alice Pigott, another of William Pigott’s daughters, and this time the witnesses were Thomas Bloomer (presumably his brother) and Sarah J Robinson.

According to the 1901 census, the Bloomer brothers came from Co. Tyrone. [ii] They may have been connected to the Tynan Abbey estate in neighbouring Co. Armagh where the 2nd Lord Rathdonnell’s mother grew up. Richard, the elder brother, was born in 1877, and Thomas in 1881. By that time, both brothers, then in their early 30s, were living at Dromore, Co. Kerry, where Thomas was again ‘gardener’ and Richard ‘land steward’. They were almost certainly employed by the Mahony family of Dromore Castle, a fine Gothic Revival building near Templenoe, overlooking the Kenmare River. If so, tennis would have been a huge part of daily conversation as Harold Mahony, head of the family, was the last Irishman to win Wimbledon. His tennis court lay amid the garden itself. The 1901 census also states that Thomas and Ellen (who was the exact same age as him) had two daughters, Edith Emily (aged 5, born in Carlow) and Kathleen (aged 1, who later seemingly had her name changed to Norah) and a son, Leslie (aged 2). They lived with Richard and Alice (who, at 36, was the oldest in the house), and their son, Richard (aged 1). The fact that the younger Richard was born in Co. Westmeath suggests that Richard and Alice may have been living in that county in 1900.

Thomas was evidently a humorous soul as a short story he penned called ‘Well-Packed’ won first prize in a competition run by The Irish Times in 1904.[iii] The story ran as follows: ‘A gentleman passing through Grosvenor Place, London, overheard a small child ask her mother what all the straw in the street meant. The mother’s answer was that heaven had sent Mrs. So-and-so a new baby. “Mother,” said the little child, “she must have been very well packed.” Thomas was based at Dromore Castle when he submitted his story. However, everything changed dramatically in 1905 when 38-years-old Harold Mahoney was killed in a bicycle accident. In the absence of any heirs, the tennis star left Dromore Castle to his sister Norah Hood. (Norah in turn left it to their cousin Hardress Waller whose descendents retained it until 1993.)

Harold’s death may be the reason why Thomas and Ellen Bloomer left Dromore. In any event, by 1911, they were living at Fairview or Mucklagh in Tynan, Co. Armagh, where Thomas was now land steward, perhaps to the Stronge family who were so closely related to the Bunburys of Linsavagh. As well as Leslie, now 12, they had a daughter Norah (aged 11, born in Co. Kerry and presumably named for Mrs. Hood) and son Robert Perey [Percy?] (aged 9, born in Co. Kerry). Their fifteen-year-old daughter Edith Emily Bloomer was enrolled at a girl’s school in Cannonsfield, Athlone, Co. Westmeath. Meanwhile, in 1911, Richard and Alice Bloomer were living at Ballymascanlon in Co. Louth with their only surviving child Richard William Bloomer, now aged eleven. A second child had not survived. Richard was also working as a land steward, perhaps for the Fortescues of Ravensdale Park, the Wolfe MacNeales of Ballmascanlon House, or maybe even at Annaverna.

Ellen Bloomer, noted as the widow of Thomas Bloomer, died on 10th December 1952, at her daughter's residence, "The Pines", Tandragee, Co. Armagh.

With thanks to Richard Corrigan & John O'Grady.


[i] Born in 1862, Robert Pigott was Ellen and Alice’s brother and probably the second of William and Bessie Pigott's eight children. On 11th Novem ber 1897, he married Annie Corrigan, a daughter of Dorah Corrigan. In the 1901 census, he said he was 49, which is probably the correct age, and gives a dob of c.1852. By 1901, he had succeeded his father at Maplestown, Rahill, Co. Carlow, where he lived with his mother (Bessie, a 74-year-old widow), mother-in-law, wife, brother (28-year-old William), daughter (one year old Annie Alice Pigott) and two servants, James Nolan and Sarah Keppel. Robert passed away on 25 June 1904, said to be aged 58. According to the 1911 census, his widow Annie and daughter Annie Alice were living in Rickestown with another daughter, Dora Elizabeth Pigott [1902-1984] who later married Alfred Jones [1906-1979] of Holdenstown, Baltinglass, and is buried with him in St. Mary's, Rathvilly.

[ii] One wonders were they related to the unfortunate farmer Thomas Bloomer of Annacranny, near Caledon, who was found unconscious in a field by his sister in 1917, succumbing shortly after she brought him into the house. He was about 60 years old at the time of his death. Weekly Irish Times, Saturday, February 24, 1917.

[iii] Weekly Irish Times, 23 July 1904.



Janaury 24: Death from an inoperable brain tumour of Lord Randolph Churchill. The syphillis story is baloney.

March 15: Bridget Cleary burned to death by her husband Michael who believed her spirit had been taken by bad faeries and replaced with a changeling.

March 16: The Drogheda Argus and Leinster Journal runs a series of letters protesting against the proposed eviction of the widow Mrs M’Glue from the Rathdonnell estate at Drumcar. All letters are direct appeals to Tom Rathdonnell himself. Read them here.

March 19: Death in Mentone of the beautiful widow, Hermione, Duchess of Leinster, aged 30.

April 5: The trial of Oscar Wilde began on charges of homosexuality. He was arrested in the Cadogan Hotel, London, after losing a libel case against John Sholto Douglas, 9th Marquess of Queensberry, who called him a homosexual. Wilde was sentenced to two years hard labour for gross indecency.

May 22 (Wed): Princess Louise, Marchioness of Lorne, hosted a Drawing Room for the ladies of the realm on behalf of the Queen. Kate Rathdonnell attended and presented her daughters Pauline and Mary.

June 16: Countess Frances Harriet Fitzwilliam passed to her reward within the walls of Coollattin House. Prior to her death the aged countess and her husband the 6th Earl Fitzwilliam had for ten months been resident in Coollattin.

July: Eight months after Arthur Chamberlain’s first visit to Arklow, the Kynoch explosives factory begins producing cordite.

Sept 5: Marriage in Hodnet, Market Drayton, of Hardy Eustace of Hardymount and Castlemore, County Carlow, and Gertrude Heber Percy, youngest daughter of Algernon Charles Heber-Percy, DL. The Rathdonnell’s send presents.

September 7–12: The 4th Earl of Dunraven competed in the America’s Cup again, helming a new keel cutter, Valykrie III. However, the race became mired in controversy when Lord Dunraven was disqualified for an early foul. A bitter dispute ensued and the 4th Earl’s honorary membership of the New York Yacht Club was sensationally revoked.

Oct 1 (Tuesday): A meeting of the Tynan Harriers agreed to amalgamate with Armagh to form the Armagh and Tynan Hunt under mastership of W.P. Cross.

Oct 23: Death of John Henry de la Poer Beresford, 5th Marquess of Waterford (1844–1895) KP, PC, who shot himself through the head with a revolver. He had injured his spine while hunting, and was rendered a cripple for life.

Nov 1: Garnet Wolseley, 1st Viscount Wolseley, succeeds the Duke of Cambridge as Commander-in-Chief of all Britain’s forces (1895–1901). His subsequent mental and physical decline was a sad end to his military career. Nobody knows exactly what was wrong with him but many have suggested Alzheimer's. This may explain the disastrous failure to pass on the intelligence reports on the outbreak of the South African War. These extremely accurate reports were prepared by another Irishman Sir John Ardagh who was, observes Chris Brice, ‘that rare thing in the Victorian Army - a University educated man)’. Stephen Miller of the University of Maine was working on a modern biography of Garnet Wolseley circa 2012.

December 10: A lady by name of Linda Mason once wrote to me stating that her great-grandfather, James Gilbert Kennedy, is noted in both the Irish Records Index and Burkes Peerage as having died at Lisnavagh aged forty on 10th December 1895 from 'cirrhosis of the liver. 12 months syncope'. The informant of the death was James Chaed who was present at Lisnavagh. JGK's father, Dr Evory Kennedy, was an eminent physician who lived at Belgard Castle and Merrion Square in Dublin. Linda says he also 'apparently had something to do with temperance yet dyed of gout - I find it hard to believe that tippling was not a family practice!!' Linda speculated that James - described on her grandmother's birth certificate as 'gentleman' - might have been a guest at Lisnavagh. However, according to his wife's death certificate, JGK's profession was 'Investigator. Land Commission' so perhaps he was there in a professional capacity and perhaps Tom had him done away with! Alas there is no mention of JGK in the Lisnavagh Visitor's Book which begs the question, are you still called a visitor if you arrive in body but depart in spirit.

December 10: Freeman's Journal publishes news in its 'FASHION AND VARIETIES' column that 'Lord Rathdonnell has left Kingstown for England.'

December 29: Leander Starr Jameson, aka Dr Jim, sets out with 600 men in a bid to entice the 60,000 uitlanders (foreigners who had arrived since the 1886 Gold Rush) to rise up against the 30,000 or so Boers. There was room to believe this might happen as the uitlanders were treated much less favourably than the Boers in the Transvaal. He also wanted to out an end to German ambitions in the region. However, the uitlanders do not rise up against their Boer masters. Jameson completely underestimated Boer tenaciousness and very nearly kick-started the Second Boer War. However, the Boers knew precisely what was coming and swiftly ambushed Jameson.

Lord Rathdonnell becomes trustee of new found Rathvilly School in Birmingham, founded by former Bough schoolmistress Mary Earl.

First Boyle Medal for Science awarded by Royal Dublin Society. (Was it presented by Lord Rathdonnell?)

Edward Brophy and William Weir build the Masonic Lodge on Athy Road in Carlow.

The composer Sir Hubert Parry (1848–1918), a former school mate of Tom's from Eton, becomes Director of the Royal College of Music, until 1918.

Tom's uncle Major Henry Stanley McClintock publishes 'Random Tales, Chiefly Irish' which includes some memories of Tom's great-grandfather, Bumper Jack McClintock.


Jan 2: Jameson Raid ends as Boers ambush Jameson at Doornkop and he surrenders. Joseph Chamberlain quickly washed his hands of the affair while Sir Hercules Robinson, Governor of the Cape Colony, denied any official involvement. The Boers them gamely handed Jameson and the other prisoners over to the British to be tried. After the Jameson Raid, the Boers became increasingly adamant that the British abandon their spurious claims on the Transvaal. Nor were they averse to war, bitterly wishing they had pressed home their advantage in the first Boer War and knocked the British right out of the region. The British were equally determined to regain their prestige in Africa and they were particularly keen to do so by convincingly hammering the Boers into submission. There were other factors at play - the British colonies in South Africa were also going through a recession as gold resources slowly dried up while the mining capitalists who had pumped huge fortunes into the venture were also keen to secure the mines, buoyed by the prospect of a United South Africa under British rule.

Jan 3: The young Kaiser sends the infamous Krueger telegram to congratulate President Krueger on clobbering Jameson and the "disturbers of the peace". Free of Bismarck’s restraint, the Kaiser’s telegram marks a low-point in Anglo German communications. Across the UK, German nationals are attacked and German shop windows are broken. The British public clearly resented German interference on their sphere of influence in Africa which ratcheted up the tension. While the Kaiser tried to calm the situation, the British government must have taken note of this public appetite to take on the Germans.

Jan 4: Tom appointed Honorary Colonel of the 6th Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles. (The London Gazette, January 3rd 1896).

Jan 14: The Rathdonnell attend dance at Knock Abbey, Louth, hosted by Mr and Miss O’Reilly; their children Billy, Tim and Mary also attend along with most of the Louth gentry.

Feb 19 (Wed): Lady Rathdonnell, the Countess of Annesley and the Hon. Violet Gibson are among those who attend Lady Sankey’s Ball. (The Social Review, 22 February 1896)

Feb 20: The Rathdonnells and one of their daughters attend Lady Ashbourne’s Ball at 12 Merrion Square, along with the Lord Lieutenant and Lady Cadogan, the Ormondes, Inchiquins, Ernes, Iveaghs, Dunravens, Longfords, Rosses and huge numbers of the aristocracy and gentry. (Clifton Society, 27 February 1896) (Thanks to Barrie Dowdall)

Feb 26: On their parents 22nd wedding anniversary, Pauline and Mimi McClintock Bunbury are alongside Violet Gibson (who later tried to kill Mussolini), Maud de Moleyns and the de Montmorency sisters (Kathleen and Rachel) when the Earl and Countess of Cadogan hold their second Drawing Room of the Season at Dublin Castle. (Dublin Daily Express, 27 February 1896).

March: ENLIST IN ARMY. Healthy Young Men wishing to join the Army can be Enlisted at the MILITARY BARRACKS CARLOW. Recruiting Sergeant will visit Carlow Military Barracks on the first Tuesday in March 1896 to enlist Recruits. (Poster In the PPP)

March 30: John Pius Boland becomes the first Irishman to win an Olympic medal when he reigns supreme in tennis.

March 31: Women finally qualify for election as poor-law guardians (welfare administrators) under the Poor Law Guardians Act.

April 14: Spring Show opens when Lord Rathdonnell presides over a 'good breakfast' in the dining-saloon with all the judges and stewards. Shortly after two o'clock that afternoon, the Viceregal party, which consisted of the Lord Lieutenant, Countess Cadogan, and Lady Sophia Cadogan, arrived at the jumping enclosure. 'They drove round the track as usual, and on arriving at the Grand Stand were received on behalf of the committee by Judge Boyd, Lord Rathdonnell and Lord Powerscourt. They remained on the Grand Stand to witness the jumping.' (Dublin Evening Telegraph, 17 April 1896)

April 22 (Wed): The Rathdonnells attend a reception for 200 guests hosted by Lady Ashbourne at 12 Merrion Square. The Social Review, 25 April 1896.

Summer: Billy Bunbury strokes the Eton crew to victory in the Ladies’ in 1896 at the weight of 9 stone 11 pounds. His father and uncle Jack both rowed for Eton in the 1860s and early 1870s.

June 1: Jack Bunbury's widow Myra McClintock Bunbury marries secondly Baron Maximillian de Tuyll. According to an article by Denis Bergin on the Van Tuyll family: 'The van Tuyll family originated in The Netherlands where the seven castles around the village of Tuyll, an early royal seat (Teisterbant) which became the base for the development of the kingdom and province of Holland. The van Tuyll connections throughout Europe resulted in unusual alliances and titles, and the family had a strong English connection. Hendrik van Tuyll (1574–1627) was ambassador to the court of England and member of the highest Dutch council, the Raad van State. In 1623, King James I of England gave Philibert van Tuyll (died 1661) the right to carry a rose extracted from the royal coat of arms and bearing the crown of England on the family coat of arms. In the early 18th century Jan van Tuyll (1710–1762), baron of Heeze and Leende, married Ursulina, daughter of Frederik, Earl of Athlone and Henriette, countess of Nassau, daughter of the Earl of Rochford, and descendant of William I of Orange.' A document on my MacBook files entitled 'Van Tuyll' has more on this.

June 6: TheCarlow Sentinel reports:
'The Ladies Susan and Clodagh Beresford have left Curraghmore for London to join the Marchioness of Waterford.
General Sir Charles Gough, V.C., and Lady Gough have left Inislonagh near Clonmel for London.
Mrs M'Clintock-Bunbury, widow of the late Hon. J. W. M'Clintock-Bunbury, DL, of Moyle, County of Carlow, brother of Lord Rathdonnell, was married on Monday last at St. Mark's North Audley street, to the Baron Maximillian de Tuyll.
THE QUEEN. Intimation has been given to the Court officials that, should her Majesty the Queen (who is now in better health than at any time during the past three or four years) be spared to complete the sixtieth year of her reign, on which she will enter next month, it is intended to mark the occasion by celebrations similar to those of the Jubilee year. Her Majesty left Windsor for Balmoral last evening.
(From the Pat Purcell Papers).

June 24: 24-year-old Billy Fitzwilliam married Maud Dundas, eldest daughter of the Marquis of Zetland.

July 13 (Wed): The Rathdonnells attend a Garden Party given by the Prince and Princess of Wales at Buckingham.

July 10: Billy Bunbury stroks the Eton team to victory in the Ladies Plate at the Henely Royal Regatta.
‘The Eton crew gained a very popular victory in the Ladies' Plate, and it was a singular circum- stance that Dr. Warre, the Head Master of Eton, who witnessed the race from the launch Hibernia, had not only two sons in the Eton boat, but one in the Balliol crew which opposed them.'
‘The Ladies Plate has always been the trophy for which "present" boys have striven for, and during the past three or four years Eton has always been first and the rest nowhere. There have been really splendid eights sent to Henley of late years; but on this occasion it was generally thought that the crew was scarcely up to the high standard of last or the previous year. Mr R. S. de Haviland, however, worked wonders with the boys during the three weeks prior to the regatta, and some critics aver that the Etonians at Henley this week have seldom been surpassed for speed or graceful rowing. The inclusion of the Hon. W. M'Clintock-Bunbury as stroke almost at the last minute, however, made a vast difference to the eight, and supplied the "missing link" in the boat. He is a very capable young oarsman. and will undoubtedly be heard of a great deal more in the big aquatic contests for years to come.’
Windsor and Eton Express - Saturday 11 July 1896

August 11: Kate Rathdonnell's younger sister Helen Maria marries Major Charles Willoughby Bishop, JP, 9th Lancers, of Barton Abbotts, Tetbury, Gloucester, third son of James Bishop of 42 Belgrave Square, London SW1. They are the forbears of the wonderful Bella Bishop.

'At Painstown Church, Oak Park, County Carlow, on the 11th inst., a marriage took place between Miss Helen Bruen, daughter of Right Hon. Henry Bruen, of Oak Park, Carlow, and Major Charles Bishop, 9th Lancers, son of Mr. Bishop, of Hamstead Park, Newbury. The bride, who was given away by her father, wore white duchesse satin, the bodice embroidered in silver and diamond shamrocks and trimmed Brussels applique lace; tulle veil, worn off the face; pearl necklace, gift of bridegroom. The bridesmaids were —Miss Eleanor Bruen, Miss Grace Bruen (sisters of the bride), the Hon. Mary and Hon. Pauline M'Clintock Bunbury (nieces of the bride), and Miss Maud Butler ; page, " Master Simon," attired in raven's wing satin, with full vest and wile collar of white satin and silver. They were prettily attired in white mousseline de soie over silk fichus, tied in long ends in front, trimmed Valenciennes lace and pink roses tucked in the white satin belts ; white straw hate, trimmed with pink and white roses, white tulle, and black velvet ribbon. The officiating clergymen were the Very Rev. the Dean of Leighlin, the Rev. Canon Blacker, and the Rev. R H. D. Massy. Incumbent of the parish. After the ceremony a reception was held by Mr. Bruen at OA Park. Later in the afternoon the bride and bridegroom departed on their honeymoon, which sill be spent in Wales. The bride's travelling dress was of dark blue cloth coat and skirt, with revers cf white moire, and vest of white chiffon, Brussels lace and silver embroidery ; hat of shot blue and green straw, trimmed with shot green glace silk, black quills and white paradise plumes. The following house guests were present at the ceremony—Mr. and Miss Bishop, Mrs. George Bishop, Lord and Lady Rathdonnell, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Bruen, Mrs. E. Ussher Roberts, Mrs. L. Alexander, Mr. and Mrs. MacMurrough Kavanagh, Mrs. Kavanagh, Miss Conolly, Miss Ponsonby, Sir Charles and Lady Burton, Lady Denys, Sir Thomas and Lady Butler, Hon. William M'Clintock Bunbury, Hon. Mrs. E. Lawless, Miss de Robeck, Colonel and Mrs. de Robeck, Miss Alexander, Mr. and Mrs. Browne-Clayton, the Misses Browne-Clayton, Mr. and Mrs. J. Alexander. The best man was Mr. Wm. Bishop, brother of the bridegroom.' Othr guests also listed at The Social Review (Dublin, Ireland : 1893) - Saturday 22 August 1896.

August 27: The Anglo-Zanzibar War fought between the United Kingdom and the Zanzibar Sultanate; the conflict lasted between 38 and 45 minutes, marking it as the shortest recorded war in history.

Mid-October: Lord and Lady Rathdonnell and the Hon Mary M'Clintock-Bunbury have returned to Ireland from paying visits in Scotland. Lord Rathdonnell killed two fine stags while staying with the Earl of Morton in Argyllshire. (Dublin Evening Telegraph, 22 October 1896).

Oct 17: Lord Rathdonnell was among the 'Commissioners Appointed to Enquire into the Horse Breeding Industry, which is operating through 1896-1898. On 17 October, a meeting of this Royal Commission was held in the Under-Secretary's Office, Upper Castle Yard at Dublin Castle. 'The meeting was private and among the members present werethe Earl of Dunraven, president (in the chair), Lord Rathdonnell, Lord Ashtown, Mr. J. L. Carew, M.P., Sir Thos. Esmonde M..P.; Mr. Percy La Touche, Mr. F. S. Wrench, Col. St. Quintin, the Hon. Mr. Fitzwilliam, and the secretary, Mr. Neville.' (Evening Herald) Wrench was a Land Commissioner, while the Marquess of Londonderry also worked with them on a report that, ultimately, found the horse breeding industry 'capable of large and profitable extension.' See Michael John Fitzgerald McCarthy, 'Five Years in Ireland, 1895-1900’ (Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Company, 1902).

Oct 22: 'Horse Breeding Commission.—The Commission on Horse Breeding in Ireland resumed its sittings at Dublin Castle, the Earl of Dunraven, Chairman of the mission, presiding. The other Commisioners present were:-Sir Walter Gilbey, Hon. Mr. Fitzwilliam, Mr. F. S. Wrench,Lord Ashtown, Lord Rathdonnell, Colonel St. Quinton, Sir Thos Esmonde, J. L. Carew, M.P. Mr. S. Ussher Roberts C.B. was examined at the sitting.’ (Evening Herald).

Oct 27: IMPORTANT SALE OF STOCK AT RATHVILLY. Lord Rathdonnells ninth annual unreserved auction of cattle and sheep took place at Ballyoliver House, Rathvilly, county Carlow, on Tuesday. The weather was favourable, and there was a good attendance of buyers. The stock from the home farm at Lisnavagh showed fair condition and good quality, with great breeding and substance, every lot reflecting the highest credit on the steward. Bidding was maintained throughout with great spirit, this being apparent by the fact that the thirty- two lots catalogued were disposed of in the remarkably short time of 45 minutes. The officiating auctioneer was Mr James Ganly, of Messrs Ganly, Sons, and Co, Dublin, who, with his usual courtesy and expedition, rapidly "knocked down" every lot brought under his hammer, The arrangements for the sale were excellent, all being carried out under the directionof his lordship's popular steward, Mr Wm Kelly. The fat ewes were quickly taken up at figures ranging from 19s 6d to 31s each, while the lambs were sold at from 18s 6d to 24s each, There was brisk inquiry for dishorned cattle, the two and a half year old bullocks bringing from £9 5s to £12 5s, while the two year olds brought from £7 10s to £8 17s 6d.The two year old horned bullocks brought from £7 10s to £9 10s, but only a few lots of these were forward. (Freeman's Journal - Friday 30 October 1896)

Dec 2: The Horse Breeding Commission continued to receive a mass of conflicting evidence from all parts of the country. Lord Dunraven presided, with Lord Rathdonnell, Lord Ashtown, Mr. Wrench, Sir Thomas Esmonde, MP, and Mr. Carew, M.P, all present. (The Times, Dec 3rd 1896).

John Byrne of Lisnavagh, son of the late Michael Byrne, married Mary Moore in Rathvilly in 1896. He is said to have worked on the estate and their address was later given as No. 21 or 22 Ballyoliver. These may have been the same Byrnes who were stonemasons at Lisnavagh in the 1850s. This information was provided in August 2018 by their grandson Michael ‘Mick’ Byrne, who was born at No. 14 Ballyoliver in 1947. These Byrnes were known as the “Duckey Byrnes”; Mick’s father Michael and uncle Jack were at school in Rathvilly.

Michael Purcell has references in the Pat Purcell Papers to Lord Rathdonnell of Dunleer as being owner of two pubs in Rathvilly - Fanning's (1896) and Fennell's (1899).

The Balrothery Board of Guardians purchase a site on Main Street, Swords, County Dublin, from Lord Rathdonnell, and begin work on the construction of a new Victorian redbrick building. Known as the Dispensary, it opened after much delay in March 1899 but soon became the Guardians ‘pride and joy', notes Bernadette Marks of Fingal Genealogy (Newsletter of the Irish Family History Foundation, January 2015).

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Above: Tom Rathdonnell's youngest daughter, Pauline McClintock Bunbury, was married at Drumcar in 1897 to an English officer, Major Fred Dalgety, who fought alongside her brother Billy in the Ango-Boer War. Billy was killed in the conflict. With thanks to Patricia Bruen.




March: The Kaiser is still toying with the idea of going to help the boys in South Africa but is talked out of it by his ministers who have their cautious eyes on British domination of the seas. An Anglo-German alliance still seems to be on the cards although between 1897 and 1899, Count Muravyov, the Russian foreign minister, was secretly trying to form a triple alliance with Germany and France.

Spring Show: Lord Rathdonnell's Gipsy King, placed first in the class for 'Bulls calved prior to January 1896 - 'a wonderfully sweet, gay, tidy bull, very compact in build, short on his leg, and true in symmetry.' His underline was faultless. The bull was ‘bred by his noble owner.'

June 10: Marriage of Tom and Kate Rathdonnell's youngest daughter Pauline to Major Frederick John Dalgety (1866-1926), 15th Hussars, of Lockerley Hall, Hants. He was a Captain in the 15th Huzzars at the time. The ceremony took place in the Parish Church of Drumcar and one presumes much of the talk was about the Queen's impending Diamond Jubilee. The Drumcar marriage registers are now housed at the RCB Library in Braemor Park, Dublin.
Fred Dalgety was the eldest of five sons (with five daughters) born to Frederick Gonnerman Dalgety (1817-1894), a Canadian-born pioneer of Scots descent who became the largest Australian wool importer in London, and his wife, Blanche Trosse Allen. Born in Canada, FGD was one of 12 children born to Alexander Dalgety, army officer, and his wife Elizabeth, née Doidge. In 1833-1834, aged 16, he landed in Sydney in colonial Australia abroad the frigate Dryade with just 16 shillings in his pocket. He advanced to Melbourne and became a prosperous merchant, buying and selling for 'the settlers' trade'. Business boomed with the gold rush and he moved to London in 1850 to establish the headquarters of a metropolitan-colonial enterprise dealing mainly with the Victorian pastoral industry, aka wool export, as well as mining, trading and insurance concerns. This became the global firm, Dalgety & Company. In 1868, he bought the Lockerley and East Tytherley estates in Hampshire, where his newly built Lockerly Hall was completed in 1873. In 1877, he became High Sheriff of Hampshire. He did much to develop large-scale facilities for financing and organizing the production and marketing of rural produce, especially wool in Australia. By 1884 Dalgety & Co. had firms in London, Melbourne, Geelong, Launceston, Dunedin, Christchurch and Sydney, with ten partners and a combined capital of £900,000, of which Dalgety held £300,000 and his original partners £350,000. He was chairman of the Colonial Wool Merchants' Association.
     Blanche died on 11 April 1883 and FGD died at Lockerley on 20 March 1894, survived by five daughters and five sons, none of whom went into the business. “The upbringing of his children was gentlemanly, not commercial; he married his eldest daughter into the aristocracy with a dowry of £20,000.”
FGD lived in England after 1859, making one last trip to Australia and New Zealand in 1881. In 1868-73 he built Lockerley Hall, a mansion and estate worth £238,000, where he died. During the fifteenth century the land on which Lockerley Hall now stands was part of the estate of the manor of East Tytherley of Tytherley and Lockerley. In 1849, William Fothergill Cooke, joint inventor of the electric telegraph, erected Oaklands House, a substantial house with conservatory attached, stabling and two large kitchen gardens. The lawn, pleasure grounds and shrubberies contained specimen trees, including Wellingtonia, araucaria, rhododendrons and cypresses. Oaklands House was sold in 1856 to FGD who razed the house in 1868 and built Lockerley Hall on the site. The house was completed in 1871 in a neo-Elizabethan style by William Burn, of the firm Burn, McVicar and Anderson.
     Fred and Pauline Dalgety had four children: John Allen Frederick, Arthur William, Barbara, and Christopher Thomas. John Dalgety, the eldest son, inherited Lockerley Hall and removed the top floor of the building and two wings to make it slightly more manageable, turning it into a neo-Georgian style building. As John was a bachelor, he invited his youngest brother Christopher Dalgety to live at the house and this is where Christopher’s son Alexander, the “heir apparent” to the estate, lived for the first 10 or 11 years of his life. However, Arthur William Dalgety then married and produced a son Hugh who instead inherited and then sold it to one of the Sainsbury family who promptly split up the estate, selling one of the farms & its “des-res” to a prominent politician. The house was sold by Sainsbury to Roger Croft who did much to restore some of the interior features. It currently belongs to a Mr Fyffe, the banana baron. Alexander Dalgety, Consultant & Pyrethrum Specialist, lives near Berwick-upon-Tweed with his wife Susan.
    (The biography of Frederick Gonnerman Dalgety (1817–1894) by R. M. Hartwell is published in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (MUP), 1972. See also James Dalgety’s page at www.dalgety.org)

I am reminded of this scene from 'Lady Windermere’s Fan' by Oscar Wilde when the Duchess of Berwick is trying to fob her daughter off on a rich Australian called Hopper:

Duchess of Berwick. Dear Mr. Hopper, how nice of you to come so early. We all know how you are run after in London.

Hopper. Capital place, London! They are not nearly so exclusive in London as they are in Sydney.

Duchess of Berwick. Ah! we know your value, Mr. Hopper. We wish there were more like you. It would make life so much easier. Do you know, Mr. Hopper, dear Agatha and I are so much interested in Australia. It must be so pretty with all the dear little kangaroos flying about. Agatha has found it on the map. What a curious shape it is! Just like a large packing case. However, it is a very young country, isn’t it?

Hopper. Wasn’t it made at the same time as the others, Duchess?

Duchess of Berwick. How clever you are, Mr. Hopper. You have a cleverness quite of your own. Now I mustn’t keep you.

Hopper. But I should like to dance with Lady Agatha, Duchess.

Duchess of Berwick. Well, I hope she has a dance left. Have you a dance left, Agatha?

Lady Agatha. Yes, mamma.

Duchess of Berwick. The next one?

Lady Agatha. Yes, mamma.

Hopper. May I have the pleasure? [Lady Agatha bows.]

Duchess of Berwick. Mind you take great care of my little chatterbox, Mr. Hopper


June 19: Captain Charles Cunningham Boycott died, aged 65, a ‘technical bankrupt’ on same day Queen Victoria celebrated her diamond jubilee.

June 22: Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee marks the apex of the British Empire.

January 1897: Page 1, Bailly’s Magazine of Sports & Pastimes, Vol. LXVII, No. 443,.


When the Royal Agricultural Society of Ireland was in its declining years, the late Richard Chaloner used to remark “that there were two men in whom he had confidence and hope, one of them being Tom Bunbury”. Of Tom Bunbury, now better known as Lord Rathdonnell, what pleasing reminiscences would not the late “Druid” have given us? For he was a man after his own heart – stroke in the Eton boat; the best man across country; winner of the point-to-point heavy-weight race of the Pytchley; breeder of Shorthorns; one of the organisers of the Dublin shows; owner of a yacht – what themes his graphic pen would have written had his valuable life been spared!

About the year 1597, Alexander McClintock found his way from Scotland into the north of Ireland; he bought large estates, and settled in County Donegal. His granddaughter married Nathaniel Alexander and became mother of the first Earl of Caledon. His grandson John had a numerous family, which afterwards became allied with several of the noble houses of Ireland; he resided at Drumcar, Co. Louth, and was succeeded by his nephew, whose grandson, John McClintock became the first Baron Rathdonnell, of Rathdonnell, Co. Donegal. This first Lord Rathdonnell was succeeded by his brother's son, Thomas Kane McClintock Bunbury, born November 29th 1848, whose father, Captain William Bunbury McClintock, RN, MP for Carlow, was described by the late Mr. Chaloner “as a very fine old fellow who loved a stout horse and kept a good Shorthorn”, and who built the magnificent farm buildings at Lisnavagh in stone, on four sides of a square, with water in a huge circular basin in the middle, and which are probably the finest in Leinster. They stand on what the late Mr. William Johnson of Prumplestown, the agent, used to remember as a bog, for he had shot snipe on it when a young man. He died in 1866, and his son succeeded to the title as second Baron Rathdonnell in 1879.

When a boy of ten years he was sent to Eton and educated under John Hawtry and Dr. Warre. He distinguished himself greatly by his love of sport and became an expert oarsman, winning the sculling in 1868, and the pairs twice in 1867, with his cousin Mr. Calvert, and in 1868 with Mr. F. A. Currey, He rowed in the Eton eight at Henley in 1867 and 1868, winning the Ladies’ Plate on each occasion, he being captain of the boats and rowing stroke. He also played in the Wall and Field eleven at Football for two and three years; twice ran second in the School Hurdle Race, and one year was fifth in the school mile.

His brother, Jack Bunbury, who afterwards rowed for Oxford. Rowed with him in 1868, and stroked the Eton eight for the next two years, so that three years in succession there was a Bunbury at the stroke oar: his young son, bent on following his father’s footsteps, pulled stroke in the Eton eight at Henley in 1896, when they won the Ladies Plate; and he is also already a capital rider to hounds. This successful early training at Eton doubtless gave Lord Rathdonnell a desire in later years for yachting, for he has sailed down the Mediterranean and back on more than one occasion in his schooner Thauma.

In 1869, a year after leaving Eton, Lord Rathdonnell joined the Scots Greys, but retired four years later on his marriage with Miss Bruen, eldest daughter of the Right Hon. Henry Bruen, of Oak Park, Carlow, and settled down to the management of his estates in Counties Carlow and Louth, where he had a thousand acres in each, breeding Shorthorns and horses, and diverting his leisure with hunting, shooting and deer stalking, of which he is particularly fond.

When a boy he was a fine rider, his good hands and seat making him a capital pupil for Robert Watson in the Carlow & Island county, who soon taught him to love “the sport of kings”. His excellent training in youth stood him in good service in after years, for when hunting was made “uncomfortable” in Ireland he took Great Bowden Hall in Leicestershire, hunted with the Pytchley South Quorn (then Sir Bache Cunard’s) and Cottesmore hounds for several seasons, and no man went better or was more popular in that famous country.

His brilliant Success when he won the point-to-point steeplechase in 1885 is the talk of the sporting Northamptonshire farmers, of which the country still has a few left, to this day. No man, say they still, had better horses or went straighter across the country than he did. This great race, although kept secret, was largely attended, upwards of two hundred horsemen being present when the meeting was reached at Buckby Folly. The course was about 4 miles and a half, in the shape of a horseshoe, over a grass country with stiff fences and an open brook. Lord Rathdonnell dressed at John Cooper’s, where they weighed out, and who very hospitably entertained them. There were 29 entries, against 22 in 1884 and 19 in the year previous. The scene was brilliant in the extreme when Mr. Cooper’s hospitable home was left for the start, and from the hill near the Folly the race could be seen nearly the whole way. Captain (Bay) Middleton made the running, the whole field being well together; but the Captain soon came to grief, and Mr. W.H. Foster took up the running; when about a mile from home Lord Rathdonnell, on Redskin, rushed to the front, and although carrying a stone over top-weight, won by about half a length, Mr. Gordon Cunard being second, Captain Middleton third, and Mr. James Pender fourth, Captain F. Osbourne being fifth, and the first representative of the light teens, four out of the fourteen-stone division being the first home. A great reception awaited the winner, who, not forgetting his host, quietly remarked, “I tell you what, John, it was that glass of old brandy you gave me that did it”. He had previously won a Harlow point-to-point race before leaving Ireland.

His taste for Shorthorns, commenced at home, was whetted by Mr. Bolton’s fine herd at the Island, where that gentleman at one time kept a pack of hounds to give sport to the good folks of Wexford. His old friend, Mr. Doyne’s choice little herd at Wells hard y, as well as his flock of Border Leicester's developed further interest in breeding choice cattle and sheep.

He has tried to breed weight-carrying hunters, with a certain amount of success, but experience has shown, what others have also found out, that the Irish hunter after all is more or less a chance animal, for he has found it very hard to breed a horse up to 15 stone that he could ride himself, though several are red annually at Lisnavagh. Revenge who stood at Lisnavagh for many years, has proved one of the best hunting sires, and Victoricus by Victor out of an Arbitrator mare is getting very good young stock at the present time.

Formerly the herd of Shorthorns was kept at Lisnavagh. He first bought a few of the Old Blossoms, the Glossys and some of Torr’s G’s at the Island, and a few animals from Mr. George Allen’s and Major O’Reilly’s herds in Ulster and Louth. The bull Anchor, a purchase from Mr. Chaloner at King’s Fort, brought the herd into prominent notice’ for this fine bull twice won the £155 Chaloner Plate at the Dublin Show; was placed first at the Newry Show of the Royal Agricultural Society of Ireland; carried off the Tweeddale Gold Medal at the Highland Society’s meeting at Perth, and, at the great Royal International Show at Kilburn in 1879 Anchor was placed first, and stood well forward for the £100 championship for the best male; the judges, however, differing, an umpire on the spur of the moment was called in, and, overlooking the elegance and character, as well as the great natural substance, of Anchor, awarded the championship to one of the fat Telemachus bulls from Burghley. Saxon King was afterwards obtained from Mr. Talbot Crosbie in County Kerry. He also won the Chaloner Plate in 1882, and was first at the Kilkenny Meeting two years later, of the Royal Agricultural Society of Ireland.

Booth blood which was for so long a period the mainstay of the Irish Shorthorn, was tapped about 1882, and Scottish King and King Otho were hired from Warlaby.

A few years after the death of his uncle, the late Lord, he removed his herd into County Louth, where he now resides. Farming is, however, still carried on at Lisnavagh, but grazing is more the feature, the land being better adapted for it than for breeding. About 150 bullocks are bought late in the autumn, dishorned, and about 100 ewes; these are grazed on through the summer, and an auction is held in October. The return of the same purchasers year after year is the best proof of the appreciation of the stock; for a greater feeder in the north of England has lately proved that Irish bullocks will dress out to be about 81/2 lbs., whereas the more fashionable blue greys will only kill to about 71/2 lbs. to every 14lbs live weight.

At Drumcar the herd has been significantly increased, very choice animals now being bred there. At the late Mr. Aylmer’s sale in Norfolk the best of the Castanets were purchased. One or two Medoras from the King’s Fort and the bull “Flower Prince” from that patriarchal breeder, Mr. Andrew Mitchell of Alloa, on the banks of the Forth, and a few animals of Booth blood from Mr. Heinemann in Kent were at different times added to the herd. Prince and Sir Alan Studley were hired from Warlaby, and Royal Zingaro, from King’s Fort, with his beautiful colour and rare hair and quality, has long been an efficient sire. The dam of this bull is at present alive and well in the herd at Drumcar, and has produced several very fine animals, both male and female.

Colonel Butler, the agent, who resides at Greenmount, close by, takes as keen interest in the herd as Mr. Adair does in the farming at Lisnavagh, his regret, and those round him, being the distance between the two estates, otherwise they might have his lordship more often hunting amongst them in the Carlow county. Ryder, the herdsman at Drumcar, is just as devoted to Shorthorns as his master; and on a field-day, when the boys gather up the herd from the distant meadows by the river Dee on to the lawn, no pleasanter sight can be seen than the interest one and all take in their choice as to which is best, and how they have thriven since the last gathering.

Occasional sales have dispersed much of the blood, with good effect, throughout Ireland, whilst some animals have found their way into the Lothians, England and Wales. It should be mentioned in evidence of the merit of the old Lisnavagh stock, that some calves were brought by Mr. Evan Jones and taken into Carmarthenshire, and one of them recently took a high position when exhibited at the Tredegar Show last November.

At the Dublin Spring Show a few young animals are exhibited in good natural condition, for Lord Rathdonnell strongly objects to the forcing and cramming system now so much in vogue; they generally receive the notice of the judges. Two years ago the Duke of Leinster’s £150 cup for the best group of Shorthorns was awarded to a bull, cow, and two heifers from Drumcar.

Lord Rathdonnell was elected a member of the Royal Dublin Society in 1875, and was soon afterwards appointed to the Council, and has been twice Chairman of the Agricultural Committee. He is also a prominent member of the Viceregal Commission on Horse Breeding in Ireland. He is a very active steward at the Spring Show, and to his energy and organising abilities a portion of the great success of the August Horse Show is due. There he is very much to the fore, especially in the jumping enclosure, where he has annually organised the grand parade of prize horses which has been so successful a feature of the shows at Balls Bridge. At most of the Irish race meetings he is generally present. His geniality and kindness of heart, his quick sound judgement and good common sense have endeared him to everyone with whom he comes in contact, while his racy humour and ready wit have, among his more intimate acquaintances, deservedly entitled him to the sobriquet of the “Merry Lord”. "

July & August: Carlow Sentinel, 1897. (From PPP)
Carlow New Masonic Hall.
In Aid of Building Fund will be held in the TOWN HALL, CARLOW.
On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, August 4th, 5th and 6th, 1897.
Under the Patronage of Lord and Lady Rathdonnell, Lord and Lady Duncannon, Sir Thomas Pierce Butler, Bart, and Lady Butler, Sir Charles Burton, Bart, and Lady Burton, Sir Anthony Weldon, Bart, and Lady Weldon, Major and Mrs Alexander, Mr and Mrs Toler-Aylward, Mr and Mrs D.R. Pack-Beresford, Mr and Mrs Browne-Clayton, Mr and Mrs Stewart Duckett, Colonel and Mrs Eustace, Dean and Mrs Finlay, Captain and Mrs Duckett-Stewart, Dr. and Mrs Rawson, Mrs Fleming, Mrs Greenwood, Archdeacon and Mrs Jameson, Mr and Mrs J.F.Lecky, Captain and Mrs Newton, Mr and Mrs R. Lecky Pike, Captain and Mrs Thomas, Colonel and Mrs Vigors, Mr and Mrs T. Anderson, Mrs Vessy. Mr S. Vessy, The Three Provincial Grand Masters - Mr Lloyd-Vaughan (High Sheriff), Colonel Cosby and Colonel Pratt Saunders.
The following, amongst others, have kindly consented to preside at the Stalls:-
Lady Rathdonnell, Lady Burton, Mrs Stuart, Mrs Maffett, Mrs Masey, Mrs Fitzmaurice (Kelvin Grove), Mrs and the Misses Langran.
Theatricals, Tableaux Vivants, Wheel of Fortune, Palmistry, Shooting Gallery, and a variety of other Entertainments.
The BAZAAR will be OPENED at 2pm on Wednesday, in Masonic Form, by Right Hon. Lord Rathdonnell, His Majestys Lieutenant.
Contributions either in money or in kind will be thankfully received by any of the Stall Holders.

August 7th, 1897.
We feel great pleasure in being able to announce as the opening sentence of our notice, that this Bazaar was a grand and unqualified success , the only tinge of regret being that it was considered deserving of local ecclesiastical censure. We do not, however, intend dwelling further on this point, particularly as it did not injuriously affect the success of the Bazaar, whatever other effect it may ultimately have. Our readers are doubtless aware that about a year ago the first announcement of the Bazaar appeared, the object as then stated being to clear off a debt on the Carlow Masonic Hall recently erected, and which it is not too much to say, is an ornament to the town and a credit to the craft. In this age of bazaars it is scarcely necessary to say that the element of novelty has to a great extent passed away. They are regarded with jealousy and dislike by a certain section of the male community, who declare that the "thing is overdone" and predict nothing but failure and disappointment from any venture bearing the name commencing with a big B. False prophets they generally prove to be, for despite the sneers of the cynic and the sighs of the un-sympathetic, the Bazaar survives. The fact is that regard them as we may there is some irresistible charm about the Bazaar, and we fancy we have discovered the secret. It is essentially "women's work," and affords abundant proof -- if such were needed -- that any task, however arduous or venturesome that ladies undertake with warm hearts and willing hands is crowned with success. This Bazaar exemplified this truism, and must be regarded as a great victory for the fair sex and a great compliment to the Masonic Order.
An attractive feature in the programme was the opening ceremony, which took place at 2 o' clock on Wednesday, by which time the hall and stalls and every available space were crowded by a fashionable assemblage. Brother the Right Honourable Lord Rathdonnell, her Majesty's Lieutenant for the County of Carlow, very kindly accepted the invitation of the Managing Committee to open the Bazaar. At half-past 1 o' clock the members of the local Lodges (116 and 91) assembled in the board-room and having given a warm welcome to Lord Rathdonnell, formed in procession, wearing full Masonic regalia, presenting a pleasing contrast in color and design. Lord Rathdonnell escorted by Colonel P.D. Vigors and Captain Duckett-Steuart ( all three wearing the gorgeous regalia of Prince Masons ) marched up the room to the strains of the National Anthem, God Save The Queen, heartily sung by the whole assemblage to Brother Dr. Malone's accompaniment on the pianoforte.
Lord Rathdonnell, on rising to formally open the Bazaar, was lustily cheered.
Having read a telegram received that day from Brother H.P.Lloyd Vaughan (High Sheriff of Carlow ) expressing regret for being unavoidably prevented from attending and taking part in their proceedings, he said it afforded him great pleasure to be present that day to open their Bazaar. In doing so it was scarcely necessary to remind them of the purpose for which it was held -- namely, to clear off a debt which remains on the new Lodge buildings, recently erected at a cost of £1,000. He should like to bring before them one very good reason why the numerous visitors to the Bazaar should spend their money freely. Owing to this debt being still upon the Lodge, the Carlow Masons had not been able to subscribe as largely to the funds of the Masonic Schools as formerly. Every penny therefore that would be spent at that Bazaar would enable the Lodges all the sooner to resume their former donations to that most excellent charity ( applause ). That surely should be an inducement to people to spend their money freely, remembering the laudable object in view (applause).
Having gone round the different stalls and examined the varied and tempting wares, he could say the ladies in charge had not put too high a price on the goods for sale, a mistake sometimes made at bazaars. He would therefore assure intending purchasers that they buy boldly, without having that uncomfortable feeling of having been "done" ( laughter and applause ). He was, said Lord Rathdonnell, in the habit of keeping on his dressing table a diary with mottoes, and of tearing one off daily. Happening to be from home for some time on his return he had several to tear off, and found the one for the 3rd August 1897 was very appropriate for that occasion, and read thus :--"It does not follow the more talkative a person becomes the more successful he is " ( laughter ). As he had many friends in that room, he would act on the advice contained in the motto ( laughter ). Another leaflet torn off contained the motto: -"A word in earnest is as good as a speech." His closing "word in earnest" would be the hope that everybody would come to the bazaar with full purses and leave with empty ones (applause ). His Lordship then formally declared the Bazaar open.
On the call of Brother Dr. Stawell, Lord Rathdonnell was saluted in Masonic form, and according to ancient usage, by a fire of eleven. [See note below] The Bazaar open, business commenced briskly, the six large stalls which occupied a considerable portion of the space, were decorated and dressed with consummate taste, each apparently vying with the other in these respects, and the whole presenting a charming effect. They were all well laden with a splendid and varied collection of goods, useful, ornamental and valuable, including curios from far-off climes, as well as home-made wares, many of them rare and artistic specimens, and most of them the work of amateurs, who entered on the "labour of love" with a will worthy of the cause they so generously espoused, and who felt amply compensated by the admiration and patronage with which their efforts were crowned.
The Bazaar was continued on Thursday and Friday, mid-day and evening, and was well patronised all through.

[Note from Michael Purcell, April 2011: Designed by William Morrison, the Masonic Lodge on the Athy Road, Carlow, was opened in 1897. The builders were William Weir of Palatine and Edward Brophy, Dublin Road, Carlow. Membership of the "Free Masons" for Roman Catholics was forbidden by Rome and for weeks beforehand local people were told from the pulpit in Carlow Cathedral that they should not attend this Bazaar. The Bazaar opening ceremony was performed by Lord Rathdonnell. Up to the present day the Masonic Lodge continues to thrive in Carlow and since its establishment has contributed to many worthwhile charities.]

[Regarding the 'Fire of Eleven', Carlow historian Michael Purcell offers this interpretation. 'In lay language they drank a toast but unlike yourself or meself with a bottle of stout, or a "good luck" or "here's health to ya" toast ... and with a bit of "secret" pantomime added ~ with "heavy set" tankards they drank from a bowl of punch, "3 times 3" (ie: 9 fires) whilst pointing left to right with the left hand ... before drinking drawing the tankard north to south from shoulder to shoulder ... added to which was a "Toast to her Most Excellent Majesty Queen Victoria the First" (the 10th fire) followed by a "Toast to the Ancient Craft" (hence the 'Fire of 11') ... following which, turning east to west, they held the left hand steady ( nipple high ) and clapping it with their right hand whilst keeping time with the left foot. When this was completed they sat and banged their gravels on the table, 3 times 3, and in a boisterous fashion shouted "Zay" 3 times 3. The number 11 has special significance in Masonic ritual and "fire" kinda relates to the elements or elements thereof. When a member died, they held a "silent fire". It's quite simple really, once you got the hang of it.')

Review of Bazaar held at Masonic Hall. 4th, 5th, 6th August 1897. (Setinel). (From PPP)

The produce stall (presided over by Mrs. W. Fitzmaurice) presented an agreeable contrast to those devoted to fine-art and fancy purposes. It was appropriately decorated with verdant foliage, and had quite a rustic appearance, well stored with fruit, flowers, fowl, etc. Taken altogether the stallholders and their lady assistants are to be warmly congratulated on their taste and tact in exhibiting and disposing of their varied and valuable stock-in-trade.
In addition to the stalls above referred to a "Wheel of Fortune" worked by Miss Bell, made a gallant attempt at perpetual motion, and piled up the pence into pounds, an interesting operation, at which the popular "dip" and Jocko's jump lent valuable help.
Another of the many attractions was the shooting gallery, presided over by Brothers Gash and Douglas, who "charged" and "rifled" in the very best Bazaar fashion.
The Cafe Chantant was a source of pleasure, amusement and profit.
On each afternoon and evening of the Bazaar it was well filled with audiences, highly delighted with the half-hour concerts and other entertainments provided for them, under the direction of Dr. Malone.
The following ladies and gentlemen gave valuable help :-- Mrs Alexander (violin), Miss Carey, Miss Swanzy, Miss Longfield (piano), Miss D. Rawson (violin), Miss Malone (piano), the Misses Plewman, Miss Mollie Malone, Fraulein Ruedy, Miss Bayley (piano), Drs Carey and Stawell, Messrs Anderson, Hutchins, Toomey and Brownrigg, Reverends J.H. Bradish, A. I. Mitchell and others. A most enjoyable little play called " Cheerful and Musical" was acted by Miss Carey and Miss Swanzy in a manner that displayed histrionic ability of a high order. Of course the dances arranged for on Friday night were very much enjoyed and largely availed of, excellent dance music being supplied by a number of Ladies present.
The following is a list of stallholders and assistants :-
Stall 1. - Presided over by Lady Rathdonnell and Mrs Stuart, assisted by Mrs G. Fishbourne, Miss Roger, Miss Twigg, Miss Fazer.
Stall 2. - Presided over by Lady Burton and Mrs Browne-Clayton, assisted by Miss Butler, Miss Shackerly, and six daughters of the Browne-Clayton family, Brownes Hill.
Stall 3 - Presided over by Mrs Massy and Mrs Maffett, assisted by Mrs H. Fitzmaurice, Miss Duckett Steuart, Miss Carroll, Miss Ada Carroll, Miss Goodwin, Miss Weldon, Miss Murielle Weldon, Miss Adeline Herring-Cooper, Miss H. Herring-Cooper.
Stall 4 - Presided over by Mrs W. Fitzmaurice, assisted by Miss Harding, Miss D. Rawson, Miss Drillma, and Master Fitzmaurice and Master Harding.
Stall 5 - Presided over by Mrs and Misses Langram, assisted by Miss N. Coghlan, Miss H. Coghlan, and Miss Bell.
Stall 6 - ( Refreshments )- Presided over by Miss Thorp, assisted by Mrs May Thorp, Miss Crosthwait, Miss Head, Mrs Stawell and Mrs Frank Brown.
In conclusion a word of praise is due to the Bazaar Committee, and especially to Brother the Reverend D.H.Massy, President of that Committee, upon whom the lion's share of the work devolved. The Carlow Masonic Committee gratefully acknowledge receipt of a cheque from Mrs Toler-Aylward, Shankill Castle, Whitehall, towards the Bazaar Fund.
Result of the Ballot (Draw ) :-- Winners -- Joseph Boyle, Marble Clock. --- George Douglas, Suit of Serge -- Lieutenant Beaumount , Tea Service --- A.E. Hull, Double-barrelled Gun --- Boileau and Boyd, Chest of Tea, --- W.G.Jacob, Fat Sheep.

Aug 13: The first issue of Workers’ Republic.

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Shooting Party at Portaferry House, Co. Down, 2nd December 1897.

L-R (standing): Lord Rathdonnell, Mr. Martin, Captain Charles Toler McMurragh Kavanagh (10th Hussars), Claude Brownlow, Unknown, JVN. (sitting) E.L. with Biddy, Lady Rathdonnell and The General.

At the time of this photo, Captain Kavanagh was Adjutant to the 6th Yeomanry Brigade (PAO Leics. Yeo. & Derby. Yeo.) while Lord Rathdonnell was a Captain in Prince Albert's Own Leicestershire Yeomanry Cavalry.

I presume JVN was Lt. Col. John Vesey Nugent of Portaferry House, Co. Down, DL, JP, Lieu. Col., formerly Capt and Brevet Major of 51st King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, born 16th July 1837. He was married on 19th January 1886 to Emily Georgiana Langham (is she E.L. in photo, with Biddy?), daughter of Herbert Langham of Cottesbrooke Park, Northamptonshire. He succeeded his brother Lt. Gen. Andrew Nugent at Portaferry in 1905. Emily Nugent died on 2 April 1909.

'The General' was probably Lt. Gen. Andrew Nugent of Portaferry House, JP and DL, High Sheriff (1882), Col. of the Royal Scots Greys, who was born in 1834 and died in 1905.

Claude Brownlow lived at Coolderry, near Carrickmacross, and is buried in a marked grave in the C of I cemetery in Carrickmacross. The Brownlows intermarried with the Shirleys of Lough Fea.

With thanks to Sylvia McClintock, Cecil Mills & Griff Morgan-Jones.

Aug 31: The future king George V and Queen Mary (then Duke and Duchess of York) stay at Adare Manor overnight. 'On leaving Adare their Royal Highnesses will travel to Killaloe, and go by special steamboat to Banagher, proceeding by rail to Baronscourt, the seat of the Duke and Duchess of Abercorn, where they will stay for three days, and a large garden party will be given at Baronscourt in their honour.’

Sept 7: Tom and Kate Rathdonnell attend a massive “At Home” garden party for 2000 guests at Mountstewart, hosted by the Marchioness of Londonderry, at which the guest of honour were the Duke and Duchess of York (later to become King george V and Queen Mary) at the latter end of the Royal couple’s rain-sodden tour of Ireland. (Belfast News-Letter, 8 September 1897)

October 9 (Sat): The Carlow Sentinel reports on death of Lieut. William Browne-Clayton (b. 1873) in Afghanistan. 'On Saturday last a feeling of profound sorrow was caused not only in this town and county but throughout every portion of her Majesty's wide dominions by the sad intelligence that some British officers had been killed in action at the North-Western frontier in India, including a gallant young Carlowman, Lieutenant William Clayton Browne-Clayton, second son of William Clayton Browne-Clayton, Esquire, D.L., of Browne's Hill, Carlow.' He was serving under Lieutenant Colonel J.L. O' Bryen, commander of the 31st Punjabis, in the Expedition to Bajour. O'Bryen also died in battle.

Lord Rathdonnell & the Celbridge Charter School.

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'Four houses are in course of erection at Celbridge, Co. Kildare, for Col. Bunbury. Mr. John M'Curdy, architect;
Mr. J. F. Lynch, Carlow, builder.' (The Dublin Builder - Monday 1 April 1867, p. 16)

[Photo: Anne Dollard, 2020]


William 'Speaker' Conolly of Castletown House, Celbridge, Co. Kildrae, died in 1729. In his will he provided for the erection of a charity school to accommodate 40 orphans or other poor children. In 1809, the administration of the school was transferred to the Incorporated Society for promoting Protestant schools in Ireland. The Society's schools were known as the Charter Schools. One of the conditions on tranfer of the school to the Society was that the Conollys could reserve the right to nominate 30 children to the school. Children so nominated became known as the Conolly foundationers. In the early years, the school concentrated on preparing the children for positions in domestic service and in manufacture. In later years, the pupils began to receive an intermediate education, the emphasis shifting to careers in education. In 1897, Mrs Conolly of Castletown wrote to the Society expressing concern that the Conolly foundationers were receiving an education that unfitted them for their situation in life. She proposed that the Society purchase the interest in the leases of two houses (Landscape House and Kildrought House) in Celbridge that could be then converted into a boarding school for the Conolly girls. The Society agreed to Mrs Conolly's proposition. In 1898, a deputation from the Society visited Celbridge and found that the two houses proposed by Mrs Conolly were not available but another, that of Lord Rathdonnell, was. However, when the Society received the estimate of the cost of alterations to the house (1,500 pounds) it decided it could not go ahead with the scheme. (Thanks to Anne Dollard).

A Survey of Celbridge by Patrick Shaffrey, Town Planner, from July 1982, notes that there was “an attractive group of four 2 storey houses with double dormer windows” at 56 Main Street, North, but I know not if they are still there. According to Mr Shaffrey: "The first smooth plastered; second – dashed; third smooth plastered, not painted; fourth – dashed with rear entrance – instead of window on ground floor. This terrace of houses was restored by Lord Rathdonnell at the end of the 19th century. Older houses here had remained derelict since 1798 when they were burned." The Lisnavagh Archives refers to a series of houses owned by Rathdonnell in the 1930s and leased to Angela Moore (Landscape View), James Lennon and William Kelly. The one next to the late Angela Moore was purchased circa 1970s by Robin and Ciceley Hall (who also took on the gardens at Primrose Hill, Lucan) who did a splendid job recreating the Georgian interior (both in design & furnishing) but sadly it was later sold and turned into an office for use as a Building Society. (With thanks to Jim Tancred).

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January 6: (Wed) I have a dance card for the Kildare Hunt Ball of 1898 which took place at the Town Hall in Naas, with the Viceregal Band. According to a report on the ‘much-enjoyed’ ball in the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News of 5 February 1898, 'Liddell's band supplied the dance music, and tire catering was more than safe - it was superlative - in the hands of Lovell's accomplished aides. The dresses worn were quite lovely, and county belles were present in picturesque numbers and brightness.’ Ever since I found the dance card in the attic at Lisnavagh, I've had a hunch that this belonged to twenty-year-old Billy and sure enough, a perusal of the Kildare Observer of 29 January 1898 confirms he was there. The newspaper also lists all other attendees and the precise arrangements of the dances. There are six names pencilled on the back and it is difficult not to read into the largest name 'Amy' which fills the spot for the No. 2 dance (Valse: Marguerite), and also the 5th (Lancers: The Geisha). It's tricky to read the other names but it looks like he had Mrs Mitchell for the 11th and Lady Evelyn HH (Hely Hutchinson) for the 19th and penultimate dance. I've always assumed Amy was Amy Duckett but alas, she is not named in the line up.

Jan 30: Death of Chichester Fortescue, 2nd Baron Clermont and 1st Baron Carlingford at Marseille, France, aged 75.

Feb 2: Mimi McClintock Bunbury and Violet Gibson attend the Cadogan’s first Drawing Room of the Season at Dublin Castle. (Belfast News-Letter, 3 February 1898)

Feb: "The Kildare Hunt Ball, given at the Town Hall, Naas, was a very brilliant festivity, and a really smart one also, for Liddell had charge the music, Lovell of the catering, and the show of stylish gowns and pretty women was one of the most attractive ever seen in the county. A number of ladies resident in the neighbourhood took the decoration in hand, and did their self-imposed work most effectively. The big maestro di musica was in excellent fettle the premier portion of the evening, but something ruffled his plumes at the close. I was told it was the daringness of a young male fledgling present, who recklessly suggested a diminuendo, when dancers cried, "bellows-to-mend!” To keep up a festivity till 4 a.m. is proof that participants are pleased with it, and even at the hour named there was general unwillingness to depart. Lady Hesketh wore a beautiful gown of white and silver. Lady Downshire was entirely in white. Lady Listowel'swhite gown was arranged with azure blue. Mrs. de Burgh looked quite lovely in a flowered striped silk toilette, with quantities of roses. Lady Mayo wore black, and looked doubly fair because it. Miss Leila Crichton was, as usual, greatly admired in pink. Mrs. Atherton had a most uncommon gown of oyster-grey satin, with rouleaux of mouse-coloured velvet on the bodice, and long lace sleeves. Mrs. Tremayne was dressed in bright silk of a pretty pink shade. Mrs. Alexander had a lovely toilette of white satin, with a richly jewelled tablier. Miss de Robeck’s black satin gown was enlivened with scarlet ribbons. Mrs. Lionel Warren displayed a splendid diamond tiara and a handsome dress of peach brocade. And strikingly good costumes were worn by Mrs. Gilpin, Mrs. Charles de Robeck, Mrs. Green, Mrs. Maurice Hussey, Mrs. Lovebond, Mrs. and Miss Lindsay, and Mrs. St. Leger Moore." Dublin Weekly Nation, 12 February 1898]

March 8: The Rathdonnells and one of their daughters are among the top tier of guests for a State Ball at Dublin Castle hosted by the Cadogans. Violet Gibson and the Ashbourne family also attend. (Freeman's Journal , 9 March 1898)

April 26: '‘Lord and Lady Ashbourne had a small dinner party Tuesday last week, at, which the Countess Cadogan was present, accompanied by her eldest son and Mr. Victor Corkran … Lady Ashbourne also wore a complete crown of diamonds, and a necklet ofsame, thrown up in relief by a broad band of velvet and lace. The Hon. Violet Gibson was dressed in black satin, with scarlet chiffon sash, and poppies on the bodice ; and her youthful sister, the Hon. Frances Gibson, who was one of this season’s debutantes, looked very pretty and petite in shell-pink gauze, over silk. Lady Rathdonnell had a very quaint gown of deep cream brocatelle, with a flowered stripe in red and yellow colourings, and the bodice made with lacings at every seam, exactly in corset fashion.” (Dublin Weekly Nation, 30 April 1898).

June 4: Tom and Billy pose for Old Captains of the Boats Crew photo at Eton, along with Sir John Edwards Moss, Colonel FC Ricardo and Messrs. GC Bourne, HG Gold, MC Pilkington, V Nickalls, CP Sercold (cox). Tom was the seniormost captain; Billy the most junior although Sercold looks young too.

August 2: Death at Longparish House, Whitchurch, Hampshire, of family friend Colonel Alfred Tippinge, a Crimean War veteran, whose wife Flora Tippinge was a Calvert. We have a photo of Flora in the McClintock albums.

August 12: Chief Secretary Arthur Balfour gifts Irish nationalism with the Local Government (Ireland) Act. This comes in the wake of a revelation that Ireland had been overtaxed by about £2.5 million a year ever since the Act of Union was implemented in 1801.

August 24: Tsar Nicholas II seized the initiative to invite the leaders of the world to the Hague Peace Conference of 1899. The Tsar was an avid fan of Jan Gotlib Bloch who had lately published his six-volume master work, Is War Now Impossible?, which transpired to be a horrifying and extremely accurate prediction of how a new world war would shape up.

September 9: Death of Tom's uncle Major Henry Stanley McClintock of Kilwarlin House, Co. Down. Born in 1812, he seved as a Major of the Antrilm Artillery, and also the Royal Horse Artillery. He married his cousin Gertrude La Touche, daughter of Robert La Touche, MP, of Harristown. Major McClintock was author of 'Random Tales, Chiefly Irish'.

November 3: Mimi McClintock Bunbury, Tom and Kate Rathdonnell's second daughter, marries Lt Col Henry Duncombe Bramwell, 15th Lancers.

Local Government Act enacted and the Grand Jury system is replaced by elected County Councils. The first elected chairman of Carlow County Council was John Hammond of Tullow Street, Carlow (his shop was later owned by Ger Donnelly) who presided until 1907. (Thanks to PPP)

An Irish correspondent to the Fishing Gazette reported to that paper that "in the River Barrow, near Carlow, a man who was shovelling gravel out of the river was attacked by a pike. The man killed it with a blow of the shovel. It weighed 36 pounds. The man had to be removed to the infirmary, as the calf of his leg had been severely gashed by this, for Ireland, medium-sized pike." We have heard of the voracity of the pike in Ireland, but this reads like a shark yarn. South Bourke & Mornington Journal (Richmond, Victoria, Australia) Wednesday 10 August 1898.


January: Billy entes the Scots Greys from the Militia. There is a growing threat of war although with who!!!? The Kaiser claims that France and Russia have asked Germany to join them in an attack on Britain while she is engaged in a war in South Africa. The Kaiser turned the offer down and let both Victoria and Edward know this; both expressed their appreciation! Aside from the Kruger Telegram of 1896, there was actually little ground for conflict between Germany and Britain at this time. Queen Vic, of course, was practically German herself. Moreover, Britain had been at war with both Russia and France earlier in the century and the Franco-Russian alliance was all about defending their overseas empires. Britain's policy of splendid isolation meant she was all alone and surrounded by many enemies. There would be much political spin afterwards to hail the Russians and demonise the Germans but at this time Britain was much friendlier with Germany, despite the Kruger telegram.

January 9: Freeman's Journal reports in 'FASHION AND VARIETIES' that 'Lord & Lady Rathdonnell have arrived at Kingetown from England.'

February 26: Tom and Kate Rathdonnell celebrate 25 years of marriage. A silver lamp is given to them by their children. A report in the 'What is Doing in Society' section of the New York Times of 19 February suggested that they would be among those aristocrats who would be 'deserting England soon', presumably meaning they were departing (Ireland!) on a lengthy cruise in celebration of the event. But they cannot have gone for long as Tom was in Dundalk by March 9th.

March 9: Tom Rathdonnell heads Committee of Management for the Dundalk Agricultural Spring Show, entering (and winning rosettes with) several of his own pure-bred stock, such as the red shorthorn Achilles (2nd Class 2 Best Bull), the roan shorthorn Queen of Gipsies (2nd, Class 3, Best Cow), the roan shorthorn Greek Dame (2nd, Class 4, Best Heifer), the white shorthorn Grecian Atha (1st, Class 5, Best Heifer), as well as Best Draught Mare (2nd and 3rd place), Best Barrel of White Seed Oats (4th) and Best Barrel of Black Seed Oats (4th). (The Irish Times, Friday 10th March 1899).

Alice Butler, the Georgia-born great-granddaughter of Pierce the revolutionary, recalls a visit to Ballintemple: 'Our arrival was truly Irish. On getting out of the train at Shillelagh, 10 miles from Ballin Temple, we were met by a large family barouche, lined with pink satin and a good deal the worse for wear. It had originally belonged to Lord Fitzwilliam of Coolatin who, as he lived on a hill above the town, was spoken of as the Lord Above . She later continued, Ballin Temple was one of the most beautiful places I had ever seen. It had a thousand acres and three woods: the upper, the middle and the lower. In front of the comfortable Georgian house rose a high terraced bank of rhododendrons which, when in full bloom, and the sun setting behind them, looked like a red river. At the bottom of the third wood flowed the River Slaney, somewhat like a Scottish river, tumbling over brown mossy rocks and full of salmon … In the spring the woods were literally carpeted with bluebells, the bluest and largest I have ever seen, often having fifteen bells on one stalk'.

May 18: The Hague Peace Conference opens on Tsar Nicholas II's birthday. The concept is that reasonable people will surely be able to work out a peace strategy over cigars and whiskey rather than commit collective suicide and allow a world war to develop. It’s a sort of prototype arms control conference. The treaties, declarations, and final act of the conference were signed on 29 July of that year, and they entered into force on 4 September 1900.

June 7: Birth of the writer Elizabeth Bowen, first cousin of Lady Rathdonnell's mother.

Sept 20 (or thereabouts): Athy miller and corn merchant Mathew Minch presides at a meeting of Athy Town Commissioners that protested against the ‘unjustifiable war that is now being forced upon the Boers’ and offering sympathy and moral support to Kruger and his independent Transvaal Republic. (Freeman's Journal - Saturday 23 September 1899)

Oct 9: Krueger orders the British to withdraw all personnel from the Transvaal within 48 hours, a ridiculous ultimatum. He was fed up with the manner in which Britain was still urging the uitlanders to rise up, despite Boers having seriously curtailed uitlander power in Boer states. The ultimatum was in response to Chamberlains provocative demand that uitlanders be given full voting rights, amongst other things.

Oct 11: South African Boers declare war on Great Britain; the war would spell the end for the two Boer states. Boer make a pre-emptive strike into British territory attacking Natal and besieging the British garrisons at Mafeking and Ladysmith.

Oct 30: British defeated and captured by Boers at Nicholson's Nek.

Nov 28: British defeat Boers at Modder River.

Dec 10-15: Boers enjoy a series of tactical victories at Stormberg, Magersfontein and Colenso which completely puts the British on the backfoot as they try to relieve sieges.

December 15: More than 500 soldiers of Major-General Arthur Fitzroy Hart’s Irish Brigade, drawn mainly from the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, and the Connaught Rangers, are killed or wounded in an engagement near Colenso in Upper Natal. Freddie Roberts is among those killed; he and his father are among just three pairs of fathers and sons to be awarded the Victoria Cross. The Goughs, also part Bunbury, are another. In fact, only three father and son combinations have ever won the VC - Gough, Roberts and, as it happens, Congreve. Furthermore, the Goughs (who racked up 3 VCs) can also boast the first brothers to win a VC each. All this makes me think I should become a Field Marshal.

Dec 23: A week after his son Freddie Roberts, VC, was killed fighting Boers at Colenso, Field Marshal Lord Roberts (aka Bobs) sails for South Africa with a huge army. He sailed on the RMS Dunottar Castle with a brief to take overall command of British forces in the Second Boer War, subordinating the previous commander, General Redvers Buller, and successfully came to the rescue. He apparently learned of his son's death on the same day as his appointment. There's some rather amazing footage of Lord Roberts himself heading to Boer War in 1899 at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yjD8ofAfd4 - ’s lots of blurry parts so stick with it; section 3 of the sea is rather dull but maybe not to an old sailor! Wonderful to see the men hacking out trenches and on parade ... Lord Roberts’ mother was a Bunbury. Bovril later ratehr brilliantly claimed that Bob’s victory in Africa spelt out the word Bovril! Vonolel, Bob’s horse, is buried at Kilmainham – see Come Here to Me blog.

Unlike the First Boer War, the British now perform like a proper professional force, moving with real purpose. However, the conflict soon transforms into a guerrilla war as Boers begin downing telegraph wires, launching night time ambushes, seizing British arms supplies and blowing up railway lines. The British army under Kitchener respond with a policy of scorched earth and concentration camps, as army is owned to burn everything the Boers own. The concept is to isolate the Boer commandos from any support network. They also build 8000 blockhouses, using African labour, which is extremely demoralising for the Boer civilians and commandos. Britain is evidently determined to overpower their 30000-strong enemy with whatever amount of men and money it takes. Half a million men will eventually be called into the combat zone, including soldiers from Australia and New Zealand.

Dec 28: Severe frost with a hurricane of sleet and snow pummels Ireland.

Dec 29: A regular blizzard in Ireland. This may have been the biggest snow until the Big Snow of 1947. While there were periodic heavy snows, a widespread cold snap didn't kick in until early 1900.


The composer Sir Hubert Parry (1848–1918), a former school mate of Tom's from Eton, becomes Professor of Music at the University of Oxford, until 1908.

In 1899, W.P. Cross was succeeded as Master of the Armagh and Tynan Hunt by Miss Isa McClintock who remained master until her death in 1952. “An appointment of this nature indicates very clearly that hunting has always been ahead of the times in relation to equality. Gender, class, creed and race are not taken into consideration in assessing who is best to lead the hunt. Isa was a member of the Fellows Hall McClintocks from Tynan, a tall striking woman who always rode side-saddle and was a fearless, skilful horsewoman of outstanding respect for her 54 year mastership!

Thauma registered as 'now a trading vessell' in Lloyds Register of Yachting for 1899. She was under the new ownership of a Danish company based in Copenhagen. Within four years she would be sunk.